Below is George Michael interview by John Aizlewood entitled “I Am What I Am” billed as “The honest George Michael interview you’ll ever read” published by Q Magazine in December 1998
George Michael was already the world’s third-biggest pop star, the chap with the nuts to rough up Sony, belle monde consort of knights and princesses and serial Renaissance Man. But honestly, you waft one penis at a policeman. “I’m just an ordinary person with extraordinary gifts,” he tells John Aizlewood.
GEORGE MICHAEL KISSES (lips yes; tongues no) his tanned cougar-eyed boyfriend Kenny Goss goodbye and leads a small posse into a West London recording studio.
The dog owning, homosexual, superstar felon sits everyone down. There’s a brace of publicists, his chilly older sister Yioda, who endearingly still calls him Yog, the nickname Andrew Ridgeley, his classmate at Bushy Meads School, bestowed upon him before the pair became Wham!, the group who never lost their exclamation mark. Present too is Michael’s long-term companion, Hippy, a gorgeous golden labrador who would rather go for a walk. Buzzing around are minions, one of whom expertly pre-rolls the joints (being a megastar means having “people” do your basic activities) Michael will gorge throughout the afternoon, washed down with lashings of steaming tea.
“Ready?” asks Michael. Oh yes. Two of his new songs rattle the room. The first, a cover of Stevie Wonder’s As, is a feisty duet with Mary J. Blige. The second, A Moment With You, is a wry tribute Marcelo Rodriguez, the policeman who arrested Michael in Los Angeles Will Rogers Memorial Park (quote beneath the park’s Rogers statue: “I never met a man I didn’t like.”) on April 7th.
“Mmmm, this is going to be great,” someone purrs. Michael boogies with less self consciousness than the occasion demands. Someone else claps along and in the silence between songs unleashes a furious, albeit solo, round of applause. Q, unfortunately placed in everyone’s eyeline, settles on non-committal, but regular, nodding motions. Unsurprisingly the consensus declares the songs, “Just great George”. Soon, the others drift away. And it’s time to talk, and George Michael loves to talk. Almost as much as he hates being interviewed. “This is quite a big thing,” he muses. “I’m sick of people thinking I’m stroppy!”
Ostensibly he’s very keen to promote Ladies & Gentleman, The Very Best Of George Michael (“My audience wants to know where I’m at and what’s going on.”), a selection which confirms, if nothing else, that he’s an outrageously gifted artist. In reality, the events of April 7th are more on his mind.
IN JUNE 1994, he lost his court case to Sony after alleging his contract amounted to restraint of trade and this compilation was part of the settlement. Sportingly, for a man who, post trial, taped Rod Stewarts The Killing Of Georgie as his answerphone message, climaxed with a shout of ,”£3 million! Bastards!”, he’s recorded those new tracks (plus Outside) and will even take on the non-legally-ordered obligation of doing B-sides, if current label, Virgin, allows. This does not, however, indicate regret at bringing the most celebrated suit of what sometimes seems like a career chainmailed by litigation.
“I don’t feel I was wrong taking them on. It was a moral issue. Free agency didn’t exactly kill films and sport did it?”
Why did you lose?
“One: it was me. Two: somebody whispered in the judge’s ear, no question.”
Why work so keenly with Sony now?
“I want the album to do well. It clearly shows the two sides of my appeal: fuck-off pop songs people can’t resist and songs that make you feel. And they’re putting it out at a reasonable price, which I’m pleased about.”
Paul Russel, Sony’s European President, said he’d love to poach you permanently. “He let a journalist believe I’d come back, knowing it would piss me off. You can’t get away with that shit if you’re head of a record company. I don’t think I’ll go back, but it’s not impossible. They’d have to fucking make it worth my while, put it that way.”
“If I’d been trying to come into this business now, I’d have given up. My attitude then -You fuckers don’t know anything- wouldn’t get me anywhere. I’ve realised that if you’re looking for respect or long term vision from record companies, forget it. One minute I was the fastest-selling album on Virgin ever.”
(Tetchy) “It was their fastest-selling album!”
(Hostile) “Yes. Ever. Two months later the Spice Girls arrive.”
AT THE END OF THE ’70’s, Michael and Ridgeley gatecrashed record companies, claiming appointments. Sometimes it worked. Court cases, stadium tours and several million sales later, Wham! straddled the world like a grinning colossus.
There were two Wham!s. The first shaved their chest hair to peddle Club Tropicana and Bad Boys, pop so shallow Modern Romance were Joy Division with Ingmar Bergman-directed videos in comparison. Their Wake Me Up Before You Go Go video , ended with a message to “buy-buy” the single.
“I understand completely why people hated us. We were so cocky and so childish.”
They were signed on the strength of Careless Whisper, co-written by Ridgeley later released as a Michael solo single. By then, the second, deeper Wham! had taken over.
“We were excellent. Some of the best records of the ’80’s are there. For the last six months of Wham! it was o.k. to like us, we got a little hip. People couldn’t ignore Everything She Wants.”
“Duran Duran and Culture Club were so sneery, and they were shocked when we went past them. I can’t think of another band who got it together so much between first and second albums. On Fantastic you can tell I don’t think I’m a singer, but some vocals on Make It Big are the best I’ve done. Even if we were wankers, you still had to listen.”
Wham! had a unique morality among pop groups. Garishly aspirational.
“It was ignorance of the difference between how me and English people looked at things. I was brought up in an environment where the ethic was, work your arse off, you’ll never get a penny for anything you don’t earn. Typical first, second generation immigrant mentality. I thought I was like everyone else. I didn’t realise until I was older that people I grew up with were suspicious of it. Being attached to the Thatcherite thing was that simplistic: we wanted to do well, to become more famous, more successful.”
Isn’t that quite Thatcherite?
(Sneery) “No it’s not. Thatcherite means being monetarist at whatever cost to whoever’s around, only believing in survival of the fittest. I’ve never been like that. I’ve always been unconcerned with money, even when I didn’t have any. I had a mother who taught me it was the root of all evil and although I don’t particularly think that anymore, she was pretty much right. All I wanted was fame and to make music. I came from a secure home. By the time I was a teenager I was in a middle-class area, we didn’t want for anything.”
As pop stars are supposed to do, Wham! spent much of their career having sex, particularly Ridgeley, foiled in his quest to sleep with every woman in the world by North Korea’s prohibitive Visa requirements. Michael, however, was squiring Brooke Sheilds.
“We went back to her apartment for what I thought was going to turn into the Real McCoy. We walked into her bedroom and there were bollards around the bed linked by a yellow police line. Then her mother and her security guard jumped out going, “Surprise!”. Next day I told her we wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore. She was really upset… I can’t believe I’ve told you that.”
WHAM! SPLIT. Ridgeley briefly became a figure of tabloid fun before retreating to a farmhouse in Cornwall, where his dignified silence surprised everyone, except those who knew him.
“Why would he stick the boot in?” Asks his somewhat cross ex-partner. “Andrew knows exactly what my contribution to his life has been. Me likewise. It wouldn’t occur to Andrew to put me down. I haven’t seen him for a year and a half, Cornwall’s not the easiest of places to pop over to. It’s alright when I do, but he doesn’t want anything to do with the past.”
Are you jealous of him and his presumably idyllic life?
“Andrew got great things in Wham! and still does, but he got terrible things as well. He became a reference for certain things he’s not and that had a serious effect on him. I’d never say I was jealous, because he’s not had an easy time, but sometimes I think he’s had an easier time than me. Sometimes I feel he had the right idea.”
Michael’s first solo album, Faith found it’s way into eight million American homes, establishing him as a global superstar. He achieved everything he wanted. Then he didn’t like it.
“I wanted to compete with Michael Jackson and Madonna and did everything I could to get there. I was 24 and thought, Fuck, this isn’t very much fun. I was at an incredible low. I was so lonely.”
Circumstances dispensed with Wham!’s exuberance.
“My desperation forced me to look at myself in ways I hadn’t while I’d placed my energy into achieving my goals. I took 1989 out, as I made Faith’s follow-up, to sort out my head. I did. I think.”
“I came to terms with the fact that I felt so little self-worth. That’s what the ambition’s about and why I was so miserable. I was chasing the wrong things to be happy. Thousands and thousands of screaming fans will not keep your bed warm at night. The best way to hold down the part of me that loved adulation was to stay out of those situations – not tour, not stand in front of cameras, not put myself out there – and see how I felt. The thing that I’m proud of is that I’m ambivalent about my disappearance in America. I have my ego stroked at home when I hear my records on the radio. Then, when I go to America I don’t have the hassle or hysteria that goes with being the hot thing. I couldn’t deal with it worldwide, and things will be easier if my album doesn’t do well in America. I’ll leave it in the lap of the Gods.”
AS HE SLIPPED FROM PUBLIC VIEW, the tabloids decided George Michael was weird and dour. “I was happy letting people make up their own little character as long as I didn’t have to be involved. I knew how to protect my sanity and songwriting.”
By the end of 1989, his least favourite solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was complete. “Everyone thought it meant Listen To Me Without Prejudice which would have been so fucking wimpy and self-absorbed. It meant I Don’t Think You’re Prejudiced Against Me But If You Are Fuck Off, You Don’t Have To Buy It.”
The 27 year-old finally sorted out his love life. He decided he was gay, would tell his inner circle (who may not have been wholly shocked), hint about it in his work but otherwise keep shtoom.
“For someone who’d had as much nookie as me, I was terribly under-developed emotionally. I knew what it was all about but I had no idea what falling in love was. Sexuality’s not about who you can get it up for, it’s about who you can get it up for and fall in love with.”
So the girlfriends were real then?
“If I wasn’t someone who knew about women, I wouldn’t have the audience I have. People don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. I spent the part of my adulthood not being in love, fucking around, fucking men, fucking women, thinking I was bisexual. I had no proof of anything deeper.”
“I’d spent most of my professional life being told what my sexuality was, which was rather nice as I didn’t know. It could have gone on indefinitely if I’d kept working and taking public admiration as a replacement for the real thing.”
HE MET BRAZILIAN designer Anselmo Feleppa and the pair stayed together until Feleppa died of an AIDS related brain hemorrhage in 1993. “For the first time I got together with someone I thought loved me. I actually felt that I loved him.”
Listen Without Prejudice Vol.II would never appear. It was to have been “up”. Feleppa’s death and the Sony court case ensure Older would be many things, but not “up”.
“I was still grieving very heavily. I was trying to write but when I’m not listening to music i dry up and I was too fragile to listen to anything that might take me anywhere depressing. At the end of 1994, eighteen months later, I wrote Jesus To A Child and i was back. Phew.”
Did you really make Older on a diet of joints?
“Oh yeah. It’s the only way to work. I light a joint at the end of Spinning The Wheel. You here a lighter, then you here it burning and me going (makes not entirely unexciting sucking noise), then, Pahhh, and the next track starts. I don’t want to sing about drugs though. How boring. The media and music industry have been incredibly irresponsible in making drugs essential to youth culture. Look at how Happy Mondays were written about and how Oasis are written about. It’s fine if you’ve got a habit and the money to do it, but it does nobody any favours to make out it’s an integral part of making music. I made lots of music before I took drugs that was just as good.”
What’s your tipple?
“I’m a grass and occasional ecstasy man. I wish I’d never taken ecstasy because I wouldn’t know what I was missing. I’ve never thrown up on it, never had a headache. I’m very good with drugs, but I find cocaine offensive – it’s the new alcohol.”
“It’s fashionable to take heroin again, so you’ve got perfectly intelligent people doing the most stupid thing. It’s looked at as heroic. It doesn’t matter how horrific Trainspotting is if you give the coolest soundtrack of the last five years. I didn’t take drugs until my fucking bones had stopped growing. At least I was the shape of an adult.”
He ignites another joint.
WITHOUT A SERIOUS relationship for three years after Feleppa died, Michael met Texas born Kenny Goss in summer, 1996. Then his life really went downhill. Two days later he discovered his mum, Lesley, had terminal liver cancer. She died in February, 1997.
“I was so convinced that I was going to lose her, that in my own way I was grieving well before she died, y’know. I’ve had five years of bereavement, but I’m a lucky man, I have a fantastic partner and some fantastic friends.” This is roughly the same gang he’s had since Wham!, although writer of choice, Tony Parsons, co-author of Michael’s peculiar autobiography, Bare, (Chapter 5: A Very Early Masturbator) has been excommunicated since an interview Michael assumed was for a record company biography turned up in The Mirror. Over three days.
“I’d talked to him as a friend. Even though I was telling the truth, it was degrading in Mirrirspeak. I didn’t want to talk about important things in The Daily Mirror. I lost dignity. I was almost as upsetting to me as this year.”
“When my mum died, it was the one time when going through my internet sites made me feel good, people genuinely wishing you well is a blessing. It’s been a strange decade. The last one went by (his voice cracks)… everything was great y’know….from beginning to end, everything worked, although I was lonely. From the minute I sorted myself out, everything seemed to fall apart. It’s lucky it was that way round. If these things had happened when I was a young man, it would have been too much.”
“When you’ve gone through the shit I have, you understand the value of pop music, of how fantastic it is to whack on a great record and go where it takes you. I fucking needed that plenty in the last couple of years. I really understand what it is to be able to do that for people. I don’t want to write more songs about misery – writing about it doesn’t seem to stop me getting more of it.”
The second half of 1997 was spent grappling with depression.
“After my mum died,” he remembers, breathing deeply, “I thought I was dealing with it, but I worked my arse off, so I had no time to reach the depths. Finally, I fell apart.”
1998 CAME AND WITH IT a new George Michael. He hadn’t got over his mother, but he’d come through the worst. After a spirit-enhancing fortnight in Mustique, he and Goss returned to his Hollywood Hills mansion to do whatever an international celebrity does for downtime (certainly not grooming his American dog, a grooming service drops by every week: “Oh come on, it’s not really decadent, I wash Hippy.”). Then, on April 7th, shortly before 3pm Los Angeles time, he was arrested outside a gentleman’s toilet in the Will Rogers Memorial Park and charged with lewd conduct.
“If it hadn’t happened that day, it was going to happen very soon,” admits Michael. “But going through two bereavements gives unrivaled perspective. The first day I freaked out because I literally had just got out of depression. I thought, somebody is trying to finish me off here. I cannot be this unlucky. When do I get a fucking break? I couldn’t believe it had happened.”
According to the arrest report, two undercover policemen were responding to complaints of previous “lewd acts” in the park. George “Michaels” was followed by Officer Rodriguez into the toilet. “Michaels” was pretending to wee at the urinal. Rodriguez pretended likewise in the W.C. Then the underwear-free star (“I don’t wear underwear. Not a refusal. I just don’t.”) wafted his “erect penis towards my direction and began to masturbate with his right hand”. Officer Rodriguez went out of the toilet, and with his fellow officer, arrested “Michaels” as he “exited the restroom”. Results: Small fine, community service order and the most public-coming out in world history.
“I’ve always liked having sex in places I shouldn’t. I remember shagging this girl in a car park after a Wham! show. There was a crowd of people, security was there and I was pissed out of my head. But I don’t remember anyone calling the police.”
“It’s disgusting, it’s completely disgusting. The Beverly Hills police sold this ridiculous arrest report to The Sun, with all its fucking lies.”
Why do it? The thrill of getting caught?
“Bollocks. I did it because I couldn’t resist a free lunch. Is there an element in me that thought, Fuck it, if I get caught, I get caught? Yes of course. I’ve actually had people ask me if I planned it. Let’s face it George, you couldn’t get arrested in America…”
“The truth is that there were three people. Two undercover cops and a randy pop star who’d had a couple of drinks at lunch. I didn’t come… Um, I don’t mean “come”. I didn’t go anywhere near the guy. He started playing, I’ll show you mine, you show me yours. And when you show me yours I’ll nick you. That’s what happened. I was angry.”
“He was quite tasty. They don’t send Karl Malden in there, we’re not talking Columbo with his dick out. They only need a quick flash to arrest, so he was off quickly. I stood there thinking, Hmmm, that was weird. I assumed he was unimpressed.”
“As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t followed into that toilet by someone shifty. I responded to something that I shouldn’t have, but I don’t think anyone in a thousand years looks at a man waving his penis at them and thinks, Oh, he’s got to be a cop.”
Of course they do. In a public place…
(Nasty, sarcastic tone) “What? If there’s no-one around except you and someone who wants a bit of fun? Why’d I think I’d be unlucky enough for that to happen? (Shouting) That’s what people do! If men pick each other up, they show each other their dicks! That’s how it works! They don’t usually get nicked! Why should I think he’s a cop?”
It’s certainly not out of the question. You must have thought that.
(Calmer) “Obviously I took that risk. There are many times when I wouldn’t have. In the arrest report, the guy said he was simulating urination. Excuse me? If you try that at home, you’ll get wee all over the shop. If you see a man playing with his penis in front of you, you don’t think it’s a cop. I don’t understand why it’s more legal for a cop to go into a toilet and wave his dick at people than it is for someone who wants to do it. Only they get paid for it. What goes on the C.V.? Professional Wanker? Oh, that’s my title at the moment. I don’t know. It’s all beyond me.”
“In 1998, I didn’t believe that people went to that degree to induce crime. That’s not what American tax-payers think their money is being spent on. Everyone knows that people come-on to each other in those places. I was stupid, I shouldn’t have done it, it’s against the law, but what happened that afternoon was totally unfair. I apologise to people if it offends them, but it’s not like anything outrageous happened. If it does offend them, they aren’t likely to be fans, so why would I worry? I’m not interested in the views of homophobes or people’s perceptions of me outside those who like the music. I have nothing to apologise for. I could not believe they had fucking done that to me. I was totally stitched up.”
What do you mean?
“Put it this way, it wasn’t just the paparazzi who made money that week.”
If you’re so sure about that, you’d obviously have fought the case…
“Lawyers tell me everyone knows this is going on, all those reports look the same. They make up bullshit arrest reports so people are terrified to fight them in court. This shit has benn going on year in, year out. It’s easy convictions.”
“Was I prepared to stand in court and call the man who wrote the report a liar? My word against a policeman’s? If I were not a celebrity, I’d have done it and claimed entrapment, but not on worldwide fucking television. It’s not an option for a celebrity.”
That’s what George Michael says. Undoubtedly, his dignity was gone forever.
“Running up and down Oxford Street singing I Am What I Am would have been a more dignified way to come out.”
Don’t you wish you’d come out earlier?
“My favourite, favourite motto is a Jean Cocteau quote: never state what you can imply. It’s got me into a lot of trouble recently.”
You weren’t this sad, multi-millionaire, closeted guy?
“The paparazzi like to think of me as that, but I’ve been openly gay with the people in my life for eight or nine years now. The paparazzi don’t want to hear that I’m perfectly fine with my sexuality or that I have a fantastic relationship. They want to hear the hard luck story of a poor closeted pop star. That’s not what people are going to get because it isn’t like that. If it were, I would have been destroyed by my arrest. That’s what they wanted. Also, as far as I’m concerned, I’d come out in my work.”
“People might have looked at my not being out with the tabloids as dishonest. I couldn’t think of anything more honest. Anyway, if you don’t want people to think you’re gay, you don’t grow a mustache that makes you look like you’ve failed a Village People audition. Who was there left to say I Am Gay to, other than people that it didn’t matter to.”
By your logic it would have been neither easier nor harder if you had come out earlier?
“Exactly. It was a good thing it happened. It took me off my pedestal. I know I built it, but it’s hard to get on and off it everyday.”
Boy George must have been pleased…
“I’ve had to put up with Boy George doing the whole closeted thing. I’ve always been nice to him, talked to him about my boyfriends and he still has to have a go. Leave it out. What’s his problem? I’m hardly going to take spiritual or career guidance from him.”
What about your father? One school of thought says you never came out so as not to offend him.
“When I say I was out with everyone in my life, I mean everyone. He was fine. He’s just lost my mum, so his sense of perspective was heightened. My dad loves me, and on the phone he told me to get out there and tell’em to fuck off. I’m not saying it wasn’t tough for him, but he took it very well.”
What about Kenny? He can’t have been delighted.
“I’m very honest in my relationship. I’ve had many truthful discussions with my boyfriend about who I am and what I’m like, so it was no great shock. What has been difficult is the media attention. Someone at BT sold my phone records to the press who rang his entire family and everybody he’d called from a number in my house that was especially his. You’re absolutely fucked everywhere you turn.”
Have you heard any jokes?
“My favourite follows a false report that says to officers walked in while I was having a good old knuckle shuffle, I didn’t stop, and apparently I went, hello guys, here it is. (Mirthlessly) What’s the difference between George Michael and a microwave? A microwave stops when you open the door.”
How have ordinary people reacted?
“I’ve been signing more autographs. It’s finally proved to me that people are nowhere near as dumb or as prejudiced as the papers they read. I’ve had one comment, someone shouting (expert Arthur Mullard-esque mode) You queer cunt, from a car going fifty miles per hour, a real brave one. I’ve had the privilege of being seen in my worst possible incarnation and people being okay with it. If you’ve been the soundtrack to someone’s life, they’ll be a little more forgiving. I responded with honesty.
People said, Fuck it, we don’t care.”
You handled it well, all thing considered…
“When I was fine, the press were disappointed. I went to Spago’s restaurant in L.A. just after. We had The Daily Mirror coming to the table and thought they were the only paparazzi there. It’s a real embarrassment for me to go to the toilet these days. I have to make sure there’s no-one in the vicinity in case I scare them out. Towards the end of the meal I went.”
Urinal or water closet?
“Urinal. I came out and Spago’s manager was going, I’m really sorry sir. My manager and my lawyer at my table told me that half the bar had gone after me. The waiters had to run to the toilet door to stop them going in. What the fuck did they expect? A reconstruction?
“It’s bizarre to be written about as a fallen idol, a shamed pop star. What exactly am I supposed to be ashamed of? What I did hate though was people thinking, Poor thing, it’s the only place he could get his fucking end away.”
Will it happen again?
“Oh no. I’ll never get arrested again. Look (exasperated) you’ve got to understand, it didn’t happen by accident. Am I going to put myself in a public situation like that again? No, of course not. Are they going to try and humiliate me again? Very possibly.”
“This has been something which I’ve ended up writing a couple of decent songs about. As long as I get a smash number one, I won’t care. I’m being flippant, but only because I’ve made a smash record and don’t need anymore publicity. As long as people buy my records, it makes what I don’t like easier to stomach. It’s a means to the end of having people hear my music. If my record is all over the radio and part of the interest is based on that scandal, then fucked up though that is, then fine. So be it.”
Do you want to forget about it?
“I don’t want it to stay around, but I’m not going to kick it out the door. I have no problem with it lodging in peoples memory, it makes no difference to me.”
THIS WEEK, George Michael will buy albums by Lauryn Hill and Manic Street Preachers. He’s smoke all his drugs – none of that old fashioned stash-sharing, mind – and drunk all his tea. He switches to Silk Cut and Diet Coke, the diet of all his supermodel friends that frequented his videos. “Ah”, he notes triumphantly, “but did you notice how many men there were?”
He doesn’t go out much (“A bit difficult, I’d rather be at home with a joint”), but he’s friendly with some Spice Girls and their boyfriends.
“I know barely any celebrities, believe me. I get on well with Geri (Halliwell). When she had nowhere to go to finish her tax year out, she stayed with me. We were in St. Tropez after the World Cup. Victoria and Beckham were staying at Elton’s house. They hadn’t spoken and I said, You know you’re dying to speak to her, why don’t you invite her down? That’s what happened. Sweet of me, wasn’t it?”
What can you talk to David Beckham about?
“Whether or not they’d been consulted about Gazza, the press. He’s very nice, but he spent most of the evening staring wide-eyed at Victoria, so we didn’t talk much. He’s much taller than I’d thought.”
When you look in the mirror, what do you think?
“Same as ever. I don’t like it. But now I realise a lot of other people do.”
What’s wrong with you?
“Just about everything. I’ve never gotten over it, it’s very deep-rooted that one. Even the way I groom myself is down to insecurity, trying to make something out of what I don’t like very much.”
Nobody has facial hair like yours.
“It’s part of my job not to look like everyone else. I don’t consider I’ve gone to great lengths to keep people interested physically. There are plenty of goatees around, just not as gay and tidy as mine.”
Do you like yourself?
“Deep down, parts of me still give in to low self-esteem. I realise I’m a good person. I value myself and what I do a lot more than I used to.”
Is Georgios Panayiotou still alive?
“Oh, very much so.”
What’s he like?
“Well he’s the randy bugger for a start. More than most artists, I’ve held onto things about me that made people buy my music in the first place. That’s why I’m still successful. But how can you remember who you were fifteen years ago? The insecurities feel the same, but I’m more confident. I know who I am. I’m not lonely anymore. I don’t have anxieties the way I did. I just wish I hadn’t lost the people I’ve lost.”
Do you stop being George Michael at home?
“I’m not George Michael much of the time. I’ve engineered my life so I don’t have to be.”
Why don’t you kill him?
“I did that and ended up missing him. I’ll not be going on as long as your average pop star. What I do is for the mainstream, and if I had declining sales, it would mean the records were getting crapper.”
How good are you?
“At what I do, I’m the best. My talent is very traditional. I’m not interested in anything other than songs that stand the test of time. I’ve always wanted to please people. I’m never happy with a song warmly received than with a smash people are still going to hear in fifteen years.”
“I get a shiver when I come up with something that everyone’s going to know. I never write stuff people can’t understand and I never want to. Now, I can talk about things that are incredibly important to me, but make them work within the context of a pop song everyone’s going to like. That gift to me is progress. I have total respect for my gift.”
Are you familiar with doing a George Michael, ie successfully moving from teeny band to adult songwriter?
“Absolutely. I hate it. Gary Barlow doesn’t have any talent. I listened to that shit about him, someone discovered in a Northern Working Mens Club, being the new George Michael. Just because he was fat and we both have inflatable cheeks does not mean we are working in the same area. I resent it when people make out my contribution to the early ’80’s was influencing future boy bands.”
What are you like?
“I am quite odd. People expect you’re going to be as clean and easy to digest as a person as you are a musician, but I’m as unconventional a pop star as you could meet. I don’t think like straight people, I don’t think like gay people. It’s made me uncomfortable in certain areas of my life as I don’t have a rule book to follow and I don’t really follow others’ examples. I have a problem with authority.”
“I am the least secretive person. I’m very decent, even though I’m painted as very indecent. I’ve never willingly hurt anyone or treated anyone badly. I’m just an ordinary person with extraordinary gifts.”
He has a parting shot, this happy/sad man who isn’t lonely anymore.
“I miss people-watching. When we signed our record contract I used to go to Oxford Circus and watch people for hours. When they’re all staring at you, it doesn’t serve the same purpose. I used to like doing that.”
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael in Q Magazine Interview (October 1990)
- George Michael Interview in The Face (August 1985)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- ‘Souled Out: George Michael’ Published in Interview Magazine (1988)