Below is the article “Strictly No Admittance: The Privatisation of George Michael” written by Adrian Deevoy for Q Magazine and published in October 1990.
At 19 he was full-time public property – a naively optimistic hit singles machine with a shuttlecock down his shorts. At 24 he emerged as the overly mature solo artist with a 14 million-selling album and a kamikaze touring schedule. Now, at 27, George Michael has declared himself a limelight-shunning low-profile songwriter, no videos, no interviews. “I want to get my life into line,” he tells Adrian Deevoy.
“I never use this room,” says George Michael, padding stocking-footed up the stairs, tea tray a-clank with mugs and biscuit barrel, “I don’t really feel comfortable in it”.
He sets the afternoon fayre down and surveys the gallery of his Hampstead homestead: two deep white leather sofas that could each comfortably accommodate a rugby union squad; teetering piles of videos magic-markered with the names of recent action-packed movies and as yet unviewed television programmes (perched atop the tower of tapes is a recording of Mandela Day, Michael’s last live appearance in this country); standing dome-topped and chrome-plated in the corner is a jukebox, a miniature replica of which sits in a small glass cabinet opposite; several objets d’art of the black and challenging kind vie for the attention at regular intervals; a bafflingly modern twin video deck gapes open on the vast glass and steel construction that pedants would insist on calling a table; beside it sits another video tape bearing the legend The Stars In Their Eyes.
“It’s that excruciating Saturday evening programme with Leslie Crowther,” enthuses our host. “I haven’t seen it yet because this new thing doesn’t work but there was some guy on doing an impression of me and apparently it was awful.” Indeed it was. “You’ve seen it?” he splutters, spraying shortbread crumbs on to the shag pile. “Is it really funny? I’ve heard he looked nothing like me, just a pair of mirror shades and some stubble, I’m dying to see it. What was his singing like? Dreadful? Brilliant”.
Downstairs an open fire blazes despite the 90 degree heat outside. “It must make me look like an old loony,” says the deeply tanned singer clutching theatrically at his pullover, “but I’ve been freezing all day.” An 18-month-old labrador called, for reasons best known to its owner, Hippy, abandons its saliva some yellow rubber bone and barks excitedly as his master slips quickly downstairs to make a phone call.
This design and decor of the open-plan ground floor is functional as opposed to frivolous, understated rather than over the top. The only clues that its sole inhabitant is worth somewhere in the region of L70 million lie in a hi-fi that would look more at home behind the steering wheel of Concorde and – you observe through an open door – a capacious sunken onyx bath with the chunky gold taps favoured by rock stars of old. Off the main living area is a small bedroom. Upon the bed languishes one of the black boots that danced nimbly and lucratively across the world’s stages – its correspondingly silver-tipped partner never far behind – on George Michael’s exhaustive Faith World Tour. “It’s quiet and green here,” says George, phone call finished, gazing out past the two deck chairs on the patio towards the small woody area behind the house. “It’s 10 minutes from town without seeming like you’re in town. No-one really bothers me, despite the fact that they print pictures of the place in The Sun every other week. But I like it here. You can be on your own. The next door neighbor is all right. He fends off the newspapers once in a while.”
Privacy for George Michael has become a priceless commodity. The elaborate video entry-phone on the wall and the thick-barred black iron gate that opens in a slow sideways motion with a chilling electronic hum bear testament to this. When, later, the dog senses a presence at the front of the house, George immediately springs to his feet and rushes to the blinds.
“It’s probably Rick Sky,” he jokes, appearing to develop an unpleasant taste in his mouth upon mention of the friendless Sun “reporter”‘s name. “You really wish they’d just fuck off sometimes. The problem is,” he sighs, clambering back on to the vast white sofa, “this place isn’t a secret any more.”
Q: So why has George Michael invited Q Magazine into his home?
The reason I’m doing this interview is to basically explain the fact that I won’t be doing any interviews or videos for the foreseeable future. I’m moving out of the promotional, selling myself side of things. Because that’s what interviews always are. It’s pure sell. I’m stopping because I just realised that it makes me unhappy. The person that I think I was when I started is not the same person as I am now. It’s a difficult thing to explain…but the period when most people grow up, I didn’t. I went from school to being a pop star, which isn’t real, life and my growing up period happened quite late – in the last three years. Now I’ve realised that I don’t want to sell myself any more and not just that, I don’t really want to be visible any more. I still really love making music and I still really want people to like my music. But I want them to like it for what it is. I’m not overly concerned about selling millions and millions of records.
Q: Is that not a luxury only a vastly successful person can afford?
No, it’s not just that. Of course I’m in a position now where I have the luxury of being able to do what I want but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve spent almost 10 years trying to convince myself and the world that I was something really special…
Q: And now you’ve realised that you’re not?
Exactly (laughs)! No, actually that ‘s not true. I’ve realised that I have a lot more respect for my own music than I used to have. I actually believe in what I do as a musician now, divorced completely from the imagery. And I’ve come to the point where I know that creating that imagery makes my unhappy now. What I didn’t want to do was just suddenly stop and step back and try and create some sort of mystique. I want people to know that for the foreseeable future, unless there’s something really important to say – which I don’t think there will be – I’m going to kind of disappear. I’ve made a platform for myself now from which I can make music and that’s all. It’s not me going, Oh I’m such a serious musician who takes himself so seriously that people should only hear the music. It’s just now I think the music is strong enough to stand up on its own…and my priority now is to keep myself happy.
Q: How has your record company reacted to this news?
They’ve been very good. But they haven’t got any other, what they call, superstar product at the moment. Ridiculous expression, isn’t it? But the were expecting a Jackson album, depending on it really, and they won’t be getting that for a while now, so I suppose that’s why they haven’t resisted that heavily, I think they understand my refusal to do videos because a lot of the records on this new album hark back to a period – late ’60s, early ’70s – when video wasn’t needed to accompany records. The songs, I think, will work better if you haven’t got my face to contend with (laughs). It can be very off-putting (laughs). If I was being very business-like about this I’d realise there’s a huge risk involved but I just want people to use their imaginations and not have the automatic video with each record. Making videos makes me so unhappy, it really does, and the way I see it, if I’m unhappy I can’t make decent music. There were songs on Faith when I thought, I’m really pleased with that, now please God don’t let me fuck up the video! That’s not the way it should be. I’m definitely taking a big chunk out of my audience by doing this but… I’ve got to think about myself and my life. I want to get it into line.
Q: Is this the tip of the iceberg? Are you also reassessing other areas of your life in order to make yourself happy?
Not really. In general my life’s fine. In fact, since the tour ended I’ve enhoyed myself more than any time I can remember. I’ve really come to grips with what it is I want. I’ve got to grips with my career and realised what a motivating force the insecurities I came out of childhood with were. I’ve faced them all and although you don’t get rid of them they can’t push you in that irrational sense any more. People who are huge stars are very irrational in their drives… I’ve been thinking about this and in order to stop wanting more and more people to love you, you have to come to the conclusion that you’re worth loving in the first place and most huge stars don’t believe that. In a sense, I now believe that I’m worth loving and I don’t need the world to tell me any more.
Q: This album is much more relaxed in feel. It’s less buttock-clenchingly uptight and clinical than Faith.
Exactly. A lot easier on the buttocks (laughs). I saw a show recently – I won’t say who it was – and I suddenly thought that the whole of the ’80s, me included, has been about impressing people. You had to be blown away by the spectacle. That American idea that bigger is better really took a hold. So, yeah, you’re impressed by the sheer size and the cleverness and the energy but you’re not moved by it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to impress people and I do think they were impressed, but now I think that’s not enough.
Q: Would you agree that this album is less magpie-like than Faith, that it doesn’t flaunt its influences as boldly?
Definitely. There’s less of that really. The closest reference is on Soul Free. The back beat is very like Soul II Soul: a muffled bass sound and a looped bass drum. But that’s the only thing and to tell the truth I was uncomfortable with how current it sounded – it didn’t seem to sit well with the other songs. Dance music has lost something, I think. These days when I hear a dance record on the radio I switch stations. I think that’s the reason this album has got so little dance music on it: one of the things I always loved about dance music was that you associated it with night-time, pulling, it was sexy. Radio just isn’t sexy. You can’t get away from dance music now. It isn’t a specialist area anymore, it’s there with everything, it’s there with graphics on BBC1. There’s no allure or sexiness in it. Soul II soul is still sexy because it appeals to people on a slightly deeper level – although in truth there’s nothing really that deep going on there.
Q: Overall, would you agree that this is a fairly downbeat album?
Musically it’s not, but lyrically it is quite down. Like Freedom sounds really up. It’s closer to a Wham! track than anything off Faith and part of the reason for making it like that is because it’s about Wham! and about the past and how I feel differently about all that now. (But today the way I play the game is not the same/ No way/ Think I’m gonna get me some happy.). I like the fact that it’s such a pop song you don’t really take in the lyric until you’ve heard it two or three times. I also like that because it extends the life of a record – you an enjoy it on different levels. But, yeah, thinking about it, there’s some pretty miserable stuff on this album.
Q: One track, Heal The Pain, opens with you saying, He must have really hurt you/To make you say the things that you do, and before you know it, you’ve seduced the person you’re singing to.
I suppose it is like that. I’ve never thought about it like that (laughs). It’s crafty, isn’t it? But that’s a very cynical interpretation, very cynical indeed. My intentions were honourable!
Q: There is an official biography, Bare, written by Tony Parsons, published this month. How is an “official” biography actually put together from the subject’s point of view? What was your input?
Well, I sat down with Tony and we had seven or eight three-hour maybe four-hour, interviews. We started at the beginning of 1988, the day after I’d won a Grammy, and then we went all the way back. He intermittently interviewed lots of other people. So the book takes each individual event, it’s like this Greek chorus idea, and you hear everything from different perspectives. Then it comes right up to date. There’s a conclusive chapter in which people talk about where I am now and then there’s me saying what I hope for in the future. It’s not a traditional biography pattern, you get a very clear picture of both me and the people who are talking about me.
Q: Presumably the interview with Tony Parsons got progressively more intimate as you got to know each other better?
Well, I knew him quite well because I’d spoken to him three or four times before. The interesting thing I found was by the time he really got stuck into it he had a lot more belief in me than he’d originally had. I think he liked me a lot more. Not that he disliked me in the first place but there was a real respect there and you could feel him trying not to put that into the book too much. He really didn’t want it to sound sycophantic.
Q: Did talking about yourself in such depth have a psycho-analytical feel to it?
What I found strange was that after a while he almost knew what I was going to say. I really felt I could trust him.
Q: Were you completely honest with him?
Not really. There were certain areas I knew we weren’t going to go beyond. Like he wanted me to talk to my immediate family and I asked them and we talked about it and decided that it could be a very good book without that. I just felt that I didn’t want to expose my family to that. I mean the book isn’t a rock’n’roll exposé like a Chuck Berry or a Little Richard book – anyway I’ve only had an eight-year career – but it doesn’t pull any punches, it’s quite abrasive. But I didn’t have a problem in telling him things. Anyway, if I didn’t like something I’d said, I could always take it out (laughs). It’s very personal – that’s definitely the impression you take away from it – and it’s so much better than some appalling ghost-written thing.
Q: There was rumoured to be a chapter entitled An Early Masturbator. Did you keep that in?
Yeah, that’s still in (laughs). The Americans really didn’t want it in, they were freaking out because there was that and swear words and some other stuff they couldn’t handle. But I kept saying. What’s the point in doing it and then sanitizing everything? But they thought it wasn’t what Americans wanted to hear from me. But we got our way in the end.
Q: Isn’t it an arrogance to have a biography written at the age of 27?
I’m not really bothered. I just wanted it there as a document saying what had happened up to this point. As I’m not going to be doing any more interviews, I wanted something definitive for that period of time to say, This is what happened and anything else you read is a load of old bullshit. There’s been so much speculation and shit written about the last 10 years, I think a definitive account is necessary.
Q: Have you developed an immunity to tabloid stories about yourself?
I’ve developed an ability to stop it halfway between (touches head) and there (touches heart). Things still bother me but I don’t wander about worrying about them all day. They’re trying to start another big thing up again at the moment. They’re ringing around all the old friends hoping that someone’s going to be much more down on their luck than they were last time they called. God knows what they’ll come up with this time. There really isn’t anything else to drag up. Not that that ever stops them.
Q: Do you still enjoy being famous?
Well I suppose if I really enjoyed it I wouldn’t want to halt its progress like I am, would I? But there are elements that I still enjoy. It depends on your mood really. There are times when the fact that everyone is looking at you doesn’t bother you and times that it does. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t miss it. I’d miss the freedom it’s brought me in that I can do what I want most of the time. If I couldn’t fly off somewhere or get a table at a restaurant any time I wanted, those kind of perks, if they were taken away from me I’m sure I’d notice. As for being recognised, here people give me a bit more room now but at the moment in America I don’t have that any more.
Q: What do people generally say when they stop you in the street? What do they expect?
I don’t know what they expect. They normally say, I thought you’d be taller. And you think, Oh… One thing that struck me recently is that I’m constantly met with smiles, because whenever I walk into a shop or see someone drive past in a car they’re thinking, There’s George Michael! I’ll tell people about this tonight. I’ll dine out on this one for a while. It’s an experience. Therefore I get a very positive – although probably completely false – reaction from everyone I meet. You forget that that’s not a normal experience and that most people are met with indifference. I’m never met with indifference. People always come towards me smiling.
Q: Doesn’t it weird you out that you’re constantly confronted by distorted reactions?
It doesn’t weird me out because I understand it and really I appreciate it. You’d only get a false perception of people if you were stupid. I know why people are nice to me – they’re meeting a famous person – and I’m not stupid enough to think everyone likes me because they come up smiling. But it does make you demand that much more from individuals if you’re going to allow them to get anywhere near close to you. I’ve developed an ability to work out, very quickly, whether or not people are genuine. I feel I really have to get a sense of trust from someone to even allow them past the most superficial level. I’ve got a fairly good intuition about people. I haven’t been had-over or taken by surprise in the last four or five years. I’ve made friends and they’ve all been good friends and I’ve worked out who I should steer clear of.
Q: Do you think you have a tendency to over-analyse yourself?
Oh, of course. I’m constantly reading people’s opinions of me and they’re not that good in general. I’ve never really been able to work from a position where people are very sympathetic with me simply because I’ve always been successful. Especially in this country. Basically, if you’re successful in this country, you’re constantly defending yourself. And when you’re defending yourself you do find that you’re analysing your motives for this, your reasons for that. I have to be careful not to absorb too much of the aggression I get towards me in the press. But I’ve always been pretty self-analytical and my songs have always been like that. But then I’m probably a lot of things I wouldn’t have been had I not become famous.
Q: Listen Without Prejudice, presumably the title’s a message intended for the British market?
I don’t want to go on about it but yeah in Britain, I’m still seen, in some areas, as some lightweight little pop singer. It’s the complete opposite in America. If anything they take me a bit to seriously. They think I’m this really serious, moody bloke.
Q: Have you ever been tempted to move to America?
Not at all. It would be pretty impossible and I love England. Tax-wise it’s very expensive here but I couldn’t give a toss really. I’ve got more money than I know what to do with anyway. I can’t pretend that I need any more money or that I need to hang on to my tax money. I’ve always paid my full tax. In the Wham! days people were always saying, Take a year out of the country…but I just don’t see the point in having money if you’re not where you want to be. It makes the world an open prison if you can’t wake up somewhere you want to be. What’s money for, you know?
Q: Have you received all the royalties from Faith by now?
Yeah, I think it’s all come in by now.
Q: How much did you make?
A lot! (laughs). No, honestly, I haven’t got a clue. I couldn’t specify exactly how much. I know it was a lot, a lot of money. I know that I came out of Wham! with not very much at all and I came out of the whole Faith thing with a hell of a lot. It sold somewhere between 13 or 14 million, which is quite phenomenal if you think about getting all those people in one place. It doesn’t bear thinking about. But that’s the modern music industry. Imagine what The Beatles would have sold if they’d known about marketing then. If you could integrate a pop group into the progression of a whole generation these days like The Beatles and the Stones did in the ’60s the numbers would be frightening. They were a huge cultural phenomenon but people just didn’t know how to sell them properly. It’s different now. Madonna isn’t a cultural phenomenon and neither am I and neither is Jackson. We’re sales phenomenons.
Q: Why do you think pop stars don’t change people’s lives anymore?
People aren’t naive now in the way they used to be. I think music can still influence the way children think. Something like the acid house movement became a big part of culture but generally individuals don’t change things any more. Music-wise in this country, what is there now? The Stone Roses? I don’t think they’ve significantly changed anyone’s life.
Q: It’s strange to think that you’re the same age as Ian Brown, The Stone Roses’ singer.
It is quite strange, isn’t it? But I’m normally the same age or younger than people who come up and do well. It’s only just started to be that that’s not the case.
Q: You’ve crammed so much into your twenties, don’t your thirties loom a little large and hollow?
Not vaguely, no. In a lot of ways I feel that I’ve just, finally, got rid of a lot of excess baggage. I’ve got a real feeling of growth now. Although I’m really proud of this album and I feel it really represents me, I have this completely secure feeling inside me that the next one will be much better. I’ve really learned to relax when I’m making music now. The pressure’s off me. I don’t have to worry about getting to Number 1, I can just concentrate and enjoy the music. At the moment I’m not in competition with anybody because I have different objectives. In a way I wish that there was someone in the same area that I’m in now so I’d have a sparring partner. But I don’t really feel threatened by anyone. In the first part of my career I was threatened by all the other big pop bands like the Frankies and Duran and in the last period it was Madonna and Jackson and Prince. Now that I’ve made a transition in my head and have moved away from that territory I don’t know who there is to compete with.
Q: You can rest assured that it won’t be Terence Trent D’Arby.
God, yeah! And I really thought it was going to be at one point. I bet his next album will be great and very commercial though. He’s going to have to eat shit to some degree but he’s a very smart man and he want to be a star desperately. I still think some of the songs on his last album are really good but he went so far out of his way to make it difficult to listen to that he fucked himself over. You can’t become an innovator. You are or you aren’t. I’m not. That’s why I have to concentrate on being a songwriter.
Q: Did you experience any feeling of self-doubt making this album?
Oh yeah. All artists do. If you didn’t have any self-doubt you couldn’t carry on. But I’ve become more confident and more prolific which I hope to capitalise on. If you’re a major selling artist these days you’re not expected to make an album more than every two or three years. It’s been three years since my last album and there’s no way I want to do that any more. I want to make an album at least every 18 months, otherwise I don’t think you grow and develop. In an ideal world, the business would divide into entertainers and musicians: entertainers would concentrate on live and video and visual work where the musicians would be nurtured and developed in the old sense of the word where they’d just make music and not bother with image. I think there are a lot of people who want to listen to music but have their own visual images, their own interpretations. We’ve had ready-made images served up with records for too long now and I believe people are beginning to get a bit sick of it. That’s why I don’t really like to discuss lyrics and what they’re about because that takes away so much. It’s like when you’ve had your heart broken and you hear a sad song on the radio: it’s about you, not about the guy who sang it and his last broken romance. That’s what love songs are all about.
Q: What did you honestly think of Andrew Ridgeley’s solo album?
I thought, actually, in parts, it was excellent and in other part… you could tell it was the first time he’d had to put something like that together. I’m convinced that there were maybe four hit records on that album and I’d never have believed that his stigma would have held that strong. It’s such a shame. No-one wanted to give him the slightest fucking bit of credit.
Q: But he hasn’t got a decent singing voice.
No, but he fucking tries and I think he gets away with it. He knows it’s not a great voice. There are plenty of people who can’t sing great but if they’ve got the attitude they can carry it off. In some parts I said to him there were vocals that should have been done again but on other tracks I thought they were fine. If he was straight out of the box with no stigma, no past, then I believe he would have had hit records, I really do. Some of the criticisms leveled at him were fair but others were completely out of order. I really think he’s been fucked over.
Q: What is it, do you think, that people don’t like about him?
Ultimately people think he got away with something, that he hadn’t done enough to warrant being a huge star in Wham! That people can carry that sort of grudge for so long is their problem, but unfortunately now it’s his. It’s a real shame. I don’t know what he’s going to do now. He was pretty despondent about the way the press berated him. And it’s not just the press. The public treat him with a degree of disdain. He was seriously pissed off. Very unhappy.
Q: You’ve now moved into a curious area of celebrity where you’re almost beyond a household name.
It seems like that. It’s like the guy impersonating me on Stars In Their Eyes. I haven’t seen that one but I saw the week before and they had people doing Shirley Bassey, John Lennon and I thought, How come I fit into that area? It’s a weird thing because you’ve almost moved into some sort of folklore. I find that ridiculous and I really don’t understand how that’s happened. It’s a strange thing to have happen to you. In a way, I suppose it should make you feel secure knowing that you’re so famous people will never forget who you are but when you’ve become part of the old establishment at 27 you start thinking, Hang on…
Q: Having been on tour for most of 1988, didn’t you miss out on the acid house explosion?
When I came back in ’88 everyone was completely out of it. So I missed most of the real heavy Ecstasy year. People were kind of getting that way before I left but when I came back there were people – who I thought would never touch the stuff – absolutely out of their brains.
Q: Do you feel inhibited by your fame in that you can’t take a load of Ecstasy and go out to a club with your friends because you are George Michael and you should therefore be setting a good example?
Oh no, I’ve taken it. Loads of Ecstasy. I just don’t do it anymore. I took it when I was really depressed about five years ago, the first time I went to LA in Wham! It’s not a great thing to do when you’re depressed, that’s why I stopped taking it. I don’t benefit, I don’t escape with drugs. Pretty well the same as I don’t escape with booze. If I have a problem, it’s there with me and I can’t get rid of it by drinking or taking drugs. All Ecstasy used to do was intensify it the other end. It was virtually a different drug then, too, you have to remember.
When I first took Ecstasy it was still a prescribed drug, the tablets still had writing on. It’s different now: half a pint of speed and a lot of other old rubbish. I really don’t get anything out of it anymore, it was just a phase, although I couldn’t say I’d never take it again because I don’t know. What I’m glad about is that most of the people I know who took loads of Ecstasy came out of it and went on to coke, which is always a no-no for me. It’s such a horrible drug. The only times in my life when I took it I had the most awful depressions and I didn’t get any particular high off it either so I just decided it wasn’t for me and steered clear of it. The other awful thing about coke is people become such arseholes on it. The thing I like about Ecstasy was that it was your own decision which you made at the beginning of the night and once you’d done it, you’d done it. If you’d made a mistake then you were fucked, but you couldn’t undo it, especially in those days as it was so strong there was never any question of having to do anymore. But what I always hated and still hate about coke is the way it makes people behave. There’s no privacy about it. They need some more so they’ll suck up to someone they don’t like or they’ll be going on to some party that they don’t want to go to. Women get fucked so they can do it, so do blokes. It’s just the most sleazy drug. I’m so glad I never got into it. If I’d liked the stuff then I may have been tempted and it may have been a problem but I really didn’t get on with it at all the few times I tried.
Q: Were you ever tempted to dabble with hallucinogenics?
No. That never even vaguely appealed to me. I remember when Andrew and I were kids he took acid and had the most awful, awful time. A really bad trip. He never took it again for years and years and years. Just his description of what happened to him really put me off. Anyway, I’m just too much of a control freak and really couldn’t handle the idea of things coming at me and not being able to stop it. I still hear horrible stories about things happening to people on stuff like acid. It’s just too extreme for me.
Q: Do you still drink?
Oh, I drink…probably more than I ever have. I don’t think I get as drunk as I used to which is a bad sign, but I love wine and I really like to drink it when I have something to eat. Breakfast, elevenses, you know, (laughs). I used to drink to get drunk and I didn’t really care what it was but now I drink because I love the taste…which is even dodgier really. The real problem is I don’t get any kind of hangover, so there’s no real incentive not to overdo it. I’ve always been a lovely drunk though. I never get aggressive or unpleasant. I’m always pretty much in control when I’m drunk as well…unless I get completely wasted. But I think I should be careful because I’m only 27 and I have a lifestyle that could let me drink more and more.
Back in the kitchen, deploying the bag-in-cup tea-making method preferred by bachelors the world over, he unburdens himself of further worries regarding drink/driving. “I never wanted one, but I’ve got a driver now. I always thought it was a bit superstar-ish and crap but it’s a sensible thing to do, I suppose. He takes me out if I want to go to a club and have a drink because I can’t stand the idea of drinking.” Sure enough, outside the unwelcoming black gate, a driver – who is amply equipped (ie arms like legs) to moonlight as a minder should the need arise – waits patiently in a Range Rover whilst Michael’s Mercedes remains redundant on the drive.
Applying his ultrabright teeth to another shortbread biscuit, he recalls the anxiety of his recent South Bank Show interview with Melvyn Bragg. “It was strange because he’s used to speaking to such intellectuals and, as everyone knows, the people in this industry aren’t exactly the brightest in the world.”
He positively glows when discussing his single Praying For Time – “I’m so pleased with the lyrics. They’re easily the best I’ve ever written. They really make me…proud” – and marvels at the “heaviness and really sad intensity” of Stevie Wonder’s They Won’t Go When I Go which he believes he has convincingly conveyed in his cover version. “‘It was actually quite a big thing to tackle. It took a lot of strength.”
This brief moment of soul-searching is rudely interrupted when he looks down and discovers to his dismay that the dog is busily engaged in the embarrassing double-jointed canine practice normally reserved for visits from the vicar. Although you’d assume him to be unrufflable, George Michael blushes and gets so flustered that he hastily tells a joke to distract attention from the cavorting hound. “What do you do when a Rottweiler shags your leg?” he enquires a little hysterically. “Fake an orgasm!”
And so it is with aching ribs that we leave Chez Michael. This afternoon, he says, he might take the dog out for a walk to “sort out the friskiness problem”. And this evening? “Will you be boogie-ing tonight, George?” enquires his driver with deferential irony. “Not this evening, no. You can, er…take the night off,” says his young boss, faltering awkwardly over the cliche. “I’m going to have a quiet one in.” He pats his dog’s head and laughs. “Ve vant to be alone.”
- George Michael Interview in Number 1 Magazine (1988)
- George Michael Radio Interview with Mark Goodier (2011)
- Faith: George Michael Speaks
- George Michael’s Interview with DJ Neil Fox in Capital FM Radio (1999)
- ‘Wham! Solid Bond” Interview in No. 1 Magazine (1985)