George Michael interview by Neil Fox (aka Dr. Fox/Foxy) of Capital FM Radio broadcasted on December 21, 1998.
Dr Fox: George Michael, Merry Christmas! Welcome to Capital.
George Michael: Merry Christmas Foxy, how ya doin?
Dr Fox: Well fantastic, what a thrill to have you finally here in person, instead of on the telephone or recorded message. It’s really lovely to have you in.
George Michael: Ha ha, you finally got me here.
Dr Fox: Yeah, you’re finally in,.Ah boy we’re going to get you to do some stuff now you’re in here, but anyway.
George Michael: I’m trapped, trapped!
Dr Fox: You’re looking healthy and well and tanned, annoyingly fit and as coolas ever.
George Michael: Thank you.
Dr Fox: That’s quite ok, I think that was a really good compliment. So we justwant to play some music, have a chat about this and that, the album Ladies And Gentlemen has now sold a Million, congratulations on that.
George Michael: Thanks
Dr Fox: That’s not bad is it?
George Michael: It’s not bad at all is it, for what, I think, four, five weeks since it’s been out. I’m thrilled.
Break into “Fastlove”
Dr Fox: So, eight solo number ones George Michael and also a further ten top tens, number one albums back to back. It’s been an amazing career, but, they always say that twelve months is a long time in pop music and for you, this must have been one of the longest ever I would have thought.
George Michael: Er, I guess so in terms of pop music, it certainly hasn’t, I mean, it’s been alot more fun than many years I’ve known recently, so it hasn’t actually gone slowly, it’s kinda whizzed by. But erm, I guess twelve months could’ve been a very long year this year.
Dr Fox: Yeah it could’ve been. I presume you must be happy to be back in London again after having been away in L.A for a bit.
George Michael: Oh yeah, I’m absolutely phfff, I can’t, I mean, put it this way, the erm, I just finished my community service over there, and initially I guess I would have been able to do it over the course of about three months, erm, but the judge, having seen the video, ha ha, that I made recently, had not taken very kindly to it, made sure that I couldn’t get an extension, which actually did me a favour, because it meant I had to do everything before Christmas, so now it’s all done, I’m a free man and I’m really going to enjoy my Christmas.
Dr Fox: So you’re back in London,, cos I know you do love London, this is your home isn’t it? Although, you do have a home in L.A.
George Michael: Oh yeah, people assume, because you know, the press write about the other places that I’m lucky enough to have homes. But this is my home very definitely, I spend most of my time here, I could never leave, I don’t think I could ever even leave London, but definitely, I could never leave England.
Dr Fox: Really? Is it very different over here that the way you say, I mean, our press are pretty bad sometimes let’s be honest, but what are they like in America? Are they fair over there?
George Michael: Erm, well, no, to be honest, the difference is that the kind of rubbish that we buy in newspapers over here, they’d stick it on TV over there, they have like a more tabloid television, which is almost worse really.
Dr Fox: Right, you tend to believe the TV more sometimes don’t you?
George Michael: Well, I think it’s all becoming very similar isn’t it? It’s all, you know, the TV and radio seem to have picked up on the whole tabloid way of dealing with things, so, I think people are becoming healthily suspicious of what they read or watch actually, in kinda certain sensational areas. Erm, but yeah I suppose, at least everybody knows exactly what The Sun is, whereas with TV shows, you’re never quite sure, you know. So I think I prefer it the way it is here.
Dr Fox: The Parkinson interview I thought was just a roaring success for you, I mean, you looked Mr Confident when you came on, and you cracked the gag to start with. I don’t know if it was in your mind, I’ve got to do a bit of an icebreaker here and get this off my chest, and get it out in the open.
George Michael: Err, yeah I guess so, I guess so. I mean, I was nervous, but not too nervous because we had met before, and he seemed a really pleasant man, and he was, very, and I thought he handled the interview really well. I was nervous as hell, because it was live, and I hadn’t done anything on live TV, or even on English TV, I don’t think I’ve done anything for about eleven years, so, I guess it had to go well, and I was pleased, I thought it went really, really well, it was kinda conversational.
Dr Fox: Because the reaction from it was really good for you, I mean everyone said “blimey, George Michael, what a funny guy.” You know how personable you seemed, how you came across, and how you laughed at the whole thing really, which was, probably the only thing you could probably do really.
George Michael: Yeah, and also, to be perfectly honest, you know I’ve, er, in a way part of what’s appened this year has been possitive, just in the sense that I kind of lightened up about the press, and been forced to lighten up about certain things you know, which is not bad because, it’s kind of let people get to know me a little bit better, which I suppose whilst I was hiding my private life, or at least guarding my private life, erm, I didn’t realise what else it was making me guarded about, so I guess I’m justmore relaxed at the moment.
Dr Fox: Yeah, you just seem a little more chilled out about everything really, which is, in a way may have done you the biggest favour ever.
George Michael: Well, to be honest erm, as I’ve said before you know, the biggest reason for my change in attitude is just, I’ve been through some really heavy stuff personally, and it’s made me realise that life is too short not to lighten up really. I’ve just been having a better time over the year simply because, I’m over some of the worst of it, and really, it’s almost as though, you know, the way things have turned out, it’s almost been, even though it was a humiliating, horrible experience, it’s been a possitive year. So um,I like to think maybe my mum’s got something to do with that, you know, she kind of got rid of a few cobwebs for me.
Break for “Outside” taken from the Parkinson interview .
Dr Fox: I think so much has been said about that small incident. There’s one email, I don’t know if you want to read that one out, cos I know you were laughing about it a little bit earlier on, it would just kind of knock the whole thing on the head really wouldn’t it?
George Michael: Ha ha ha, yeah, I mean, even though I am perfectly ready to stop talking about this, I really am, there is something here I really like. It’s part of a fax, from somebody called Nancy Goddino, and she says, amongst other things, she’s got a couple of questions for me, and the second paragraph says “The other thing I wanted to ask was, how do you feel about the fact that instead of admiring all the great things you have done, the press seem focused on one little insignificant thing?” HA HA. It’s like, who’s she been talking to? Ha Ha.
Dr Fox: It’s the magnifying glass one isn’t it, it’s that one again George, let’s be honest.ha ha.
George Michael: Ha Ha, oh well. I don’t think I should take that too seriously, there you go.
Dr Fox: Here’s an email. This one comes from Tom Bates at virgin.net from Ilford, hello Tom, “Please could you ask George what his parents first thought when he told them he wanted to go into showbiz?”
George Michael: Err, they were horrified basically.
Dr Fox: Really?
George Michael: Yeah, the first time I ever stood up to my parents in any way was when they wanted to send me to private school, cos I went to comprehensive and my father had basically saved enough money for me to go to private school, and erm, I had no intention of going to private school, because I knew I didn’t want to go to University, and that was when I was like, about twelve I guess, and I refused point blank, to take the entrance exam to a very posh school called Haberdashers. Once they realised that I didn’t want to go to University, and that I was dead serious about being a musician, I think err, all their hopes for my acedemic future were crumbled, you know, so it was pretty tough at the beginning, they weren’t happy.
Dr Fox: What age did you get your first musical instrument?
George Michael: I was eleven Foxy, and I had a eukelele (in a funny voice)
Dr Fox: And were you good on the eukelele? (in an equally funny voice)
George Michael: I was the best, I was amazing. My sister put her elbow through it. That was the end of my eukelele career.
Dr Fox: Really? Did you think when you were a real little kid, I want to be a singer?
George Michael: Erm, I wanted to be a pop star,I wasn’t sure what I was gonna be. I started out playing the drums, erm, and I think I gathered somewhere along the way, that drummers end up sitting at the back all the time.
Dr Fox: And you wanted all the glory?
George Michael: Yeah, I definitely wanted the glory big time. So, apart from the fact that my parents refused to buy me a full-scale drum kit because they obviously knew what that would ensue. Yeah, I think probably by the time I was about sixteen I decided I wanted to be a singer, but all I knew before then was I wanted to write music, and be successful with it you know.
Break into “Too Funky”
Dr Fox: We’d like to do some phone calls live with George, you’re up for that aren’t you? After seven o’ clock or so.
George Michael: I’m very up for that yeah
Dr Fox: Ready to take anyone on?
George Michael: Absolutely, ha ha
Dr Fox: Take it on the chin, pardon the expression.
George Michael: Ha ha, absolutely anyone.
Dr Fox: So as you look towards 1999 now, as we’re nearly there, I mean, what do you want to achieve in ’99? Because musical goals, probably pretty much achieved now I would of thought.
George Michael: Erm, yeah, I mean, to be honest, for the first time in years, I’m gonna try and to a bit of relaxing you know, actually try and take a little bit of time off.
Dr Fox: George, are you sure? Are you ok?
George Michael: Well, I don’t know, I’m gonna try.
Dr Fox: Ok.
George Michael: I’m gonna try, but, apart from that I’ve got nothing really that I, you know what? The one thing quite tempting is to try and write something for, I’d like to try and write something to be the number one over the year 2000, that would be great.
Dr Fox: Isn’t everyone going to try and do that?
George Michael: Yeah, everyone’s gonna try and do it so….
Dr Fox: The big millenium song I know.
George Michael: Yeah, but they won’t all have a whole year to get it together, ha ha.
Dr Fox: Ha ha, that’s all you’re gonna do, you’ve got twelve months, this is your goal.
George Michael: I think so, yeah.
Dr Fox: Oh, crikey.
George Michael: And if I come up with something lousy for that, then you know I’ve really hit a brick wall.
Dr Fox: Yeah, you know you’ve had a bad 1999.
George Michael: I’d have had bugger all to do the rest of the year.
Dr Fox: Someone sent in an email, and they said that you seemed so good now, you know, the music is so good, is there anything that you haven’t done yet? Your videos, you obviously seem to like to act and, erm, ever thought of doing that? A nice movie role?
George Michael: To be really honest, there are two reasons I don’t think it’s likely. One is that, I still have such a phobia about cameras, I can’t really imagine (laughing)
Dr Fox: You have a phobia really?
George Michael: I don’t think the director would be, any director would take too kindly to filming me from one angle for an hour and a half (laughing).
Dr Fox: Which angle do you hate?
George Michael: Eer, oh I hate most of them.
Dr Fox: Really?
George Michael: I like the one that you normally see everywhere (laughing), that’s the one I can bear, erm. And the other reason is, it’s such a cliche, so many people in my position have done it badly, you know. I’m not really interested in being just kinda good enough, I’m interested in doing something and being special in that field, so I can’t really see it, I’m very tempted because you know, I’m a born show off. And it was the only other thing that I could do at school was an act, but erm, no, I think, unless, I think if I do it, it will be a long way down the road. No, I can’t see it.
Break into “As”
Dr Fox: That’s beautiful isn’t it, that will be coming out next year some time right?
George Michael: Yeah, that’s going to be the next single. I’ll be going into the studio and trying to re-work it. But I’m not sure whether that’ll be the 7″, that’ll be the version that will go with the video or not.
Dr Fox: See now, how do you end up, for example, choosing Mary J Blige? How does that happen?
George Michael: Well, it’s not a case of choosing, she’s got the most amazing voice, and there are very few people that I really think that I’ve really got to work with this person you know, and she was one of them. I think she’s an amazing singer. she’s under-rated, well not under-rated but under-recognized over here I think, erm, does a lot better over in the states. But she just has an incredible voice, she reminds me of Aretha you know.
Dr Fox: Who else would you like to work with?
George Michael: At the moment, the only person I’m desperate to work with, but I don’t know, they said that obviously, she’s really busy, she’s just had a baby, that’s Lauryn Hill.
Dr Fox: Oh, I thought you were going to say Billy.
George Michael: No, no, no, I don’t think so, not yet (both laughing). I don’t want to dismiss the poor girl, but not yet. Anyway it’s illegal, isn’t it? Err, but em, no, I’d really love to work with Lauryn Hill. They said it was because she was having a baby, and, she couldn’t do anything right now, so, I’ll get back onto them later in the year and see if it’ll work.
Dr Fox: Now, she also has a brilliant voice now doesn’t she?
George Michael: I think she’s gonna be the biggest, erm, definitely the best R&B star over the next ten years.
Dr Fox: Really?
George Michael: Yeah I do, yeah. It’s just that people are a little slower catching on to her here, cos she’s based in Hip Hop.
Dr Fox: But the whole Fugee project was incredibly good, I mean three very talented people working together there.
George Michael: Yeah, I’m not that mad about some of the other stuff that the other two have done. But she, I mean her solo album I think, is the best soul album that I’ve heard in many years. I’d really love to work with her.
Dr Fox: The album has now sold a million actually, and I think that is something of a record. It’s the fastest double album ever sold ever.
George Michael: Yeah,so I hear.
Dr Fox: That’s staggering isn’t it really? Has it blown you away, I mean literally?
George Michael: It’s the best Christmas present I could have had. I just can’t tell people, I can’t thank people enough basically for their support over this year, it’s been absolutely incredible.
Dr Fox: What I find is amazing, is that people do really love you and they love your music, and I don’t know whether it’s … I think it’s not just a London thing, I think it’s a British thing actually, that really, deep down, although newspapers feed us a load of drivel about people’s private lives, I really don’t think people care a monkey.
George Michael: I don’t think they really care, and I think people, you know, a lot of these songs have become a part of these people’s lives. Maybe because, there’s been no real break in my output, even though I had the court case there were still things coming out, you know, Elton’s thing and, I think because I’ve been kind of there for the last15-16 years, I’ve become really part of people’s nostalgia. So I think people have affection for the pleasure that I’ve given them, hopefully, and that shows itself in terms of the way they deal with me, which is great. I love London,I love the fact that I have such a close connection with London, I love the fact that it seems to be my strongest support you know.
Dr Fox: Sure. It’s amazing looking at the votes coming in for the Hall of Fame. I mean, how many people still vote for Careless Whisper? It’s unbelievable.
George Michael: Hmm, it’s always a thrill you know, it’s always a thrill to see it up there.
Break into “Fantasy”
Dr Fox: Is it ever going to come out as a single this?
George Michael: I doubt it no, but it was a nice one to put on the album.—–
Dr Fox: George here’s a bit of a task for you. We want to play three of your favourite songs, and then we can have a glass of Vino in-between those. And line up some phone calls. Three favourite songs in the hall of fame… something Christmassy. Favourite Christmas song.
George Michael: Erm, favourite Christmas song. Erm,err, that guy, Greg Lake, Greg Lake.
Dr Fox: I Believe in Father Christmas.
George Michael: Yeah, I Believe in Father Christmas, I love that. It always reminds me for some reason of being on the school bus.
Dr Fox: Lovely. Ok, one for the school bus. Favourite all time song? That’s a tough one.
George Michael: Favourite all time. Erm, you’ll have to come back to me in a minute for that I think.
Dr Fox: Ok. Do you have a favourite hit of 1998?
George Michael: Eer, of 98′, I would say probably, Lauryn Hill “Do What” I think.
Dr Fox: Ok, those three songs coming up on Capital FM. ——-
Dr Fox: Well here’s a tough one, crikey. Ask one of the biggest stars in the world. What’s your all-time favourite song.
George Michael: You’re talking about all time right? Not one of mine, right? Someone else’s?
Dr Fox: Yeah, all time.
George Michael: I guess it would have to be a close call between, Aretha Franklin “Say a little prayer”, and Elton “Someone saved my life tonight.” I would say. Those two.
Dr Fox: Ok. So, which one is it going to be George?
George Michael: Ahh, I’ll go for Elton, just cos he’s a mate.
Dr Fox: Ok, there you go. Is Aretha Franklin not a mate?
George Micheal: Yeah she is, she is.
Dr Fox: But not as much so, obviously.
George Michael: It’s just, she doesn’t listen to Capital, so I wouldn’t have to explain it to her (both laugh)
Dr Fox: Oh I see, he’s off my Christmas card list, there you go. Right, so here you go, this is the hall of fame. Christmas song, which was Greg Lake “I believe in Father Christmas”. And a bit of Lauryn Hill. And we’ll finish off with Elton John, lovely. So, this is school bus is it? What sort of year would that be?
George Michael: School bus, I would have been like eleven.
Dr Fox: Ok.
George Michael: Yeah. Miserable school morning I just remembered somehow, listening to this on the school bus on the way. ———-
Dr Fox: Nice song aye? (referring to Elton’s “Someone saved my life tonight”. What kind of memories does that bring back?
George Michael: Funnily enough, you know the memory that brings back most strongly, is again, the Capital Hit Line, in the 70’s. This was in the big race, and the big race was between this, and err, Bohemium Rhapsody” I think it was. It was either that or another Queen song. I was such a big Queen fan and a big Elton John fan, that I never used to know which one of the two to vote for, so I would vote for them alternately (both laugh)
Dr Fox: What, come home from school and phone up?
George Michael: Yeah, I did yeah, absolutely.
Dr Fox: Have you always listened to Capital? Ever since you were a kid?
George Michael: When did Capital start?
Dr Fox: 1973
George Michael: 73? so I was 10 yeah, I would have listened to it from day one, yeah.
Dr Fox: Wow!
George Michael: And here I am.
Dr Fox: And here he is, still here. So, the next song we’re going to play actually is “You have been loved,” which is a lovely song. I remember when you were talking at the Help a London Childline, and, oh my goodness, that was such an emotional thing when your mum had passed away, and you were talking about, you know, how she used to keep in touch with what you were doing by listening to us, cos we’d play your songs and what have you.
George Michael: Yeah, my mum used to listen to Capital constantly, absolutely constantly. My mum was actually…..When the first Wham! records came out, she used to call up the hitline and do different voices you know (laughing). She’d call up, again and again, you know you’re only allowed to vote once, and when the hitline was still going when we started. So she would call and do different voices.
Dr Fox: What, you’re mum?
George Michael: Yeah, my mum used to do that yeah (both laughing). And she’d get all her friends to do the same thing so, a little helping hand.
Dr Fox: A little bit of loyalty here and there never goes a miss.
George Michael: Absolutely, yeah.
Dr Fox: There’s an interesting email just come in, and the nice thing about the internet is that people around the world are listening right now and we’ve had so many since we announced it on Friday that you were going to come in. So here’s one from Dallas, and it says “How do you feel about the fact that, in America, your music is not as recognized as it is in the UK. They’re not as fanatic about your music?”
George Michael: From Dallas? You say it’s from Dallas?
Dr Fox: Yeah.
George Michael: Are you sure it’s not my boyfriend? (laughs) Cos he comes from Dallas.
Dr Fox: If he’s called Bertrand, then…..
George Michael: No, no, no it’s not, sorry, that’s definately not him. How do I feel about what? That they’re not playing the records?
Dr Fox: Yeah, about the fact that the Americans, how they react to your music.
George Michael: I don’t really think Americans act any differently to anyone else, I think that the radio programmers don’t play me over there anymore. You know, in America, you really have to do the rounds, you have to be on TV the whole time, you have to do all kinds of promotion, that I decided years ago that I wanted to stop doing. In all honesty, I’m not really that bothered about it, because it gives me… because I have a house in L.A, it’s great to the extent that I can relax there, because even though I’m still not very well known in America, because I’m not on TV, and they don’t have tabloid press, people just don’t recognise me. A lot of people don’t recognise me, so I can walk down a street there or walk into a restaurant, and really feel a lot more relaxed than I can in most places in the world.. Even though obviously, from a commercial point of view, yeah, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be selling the way I used to in America, but not if it meant, you know, making my life more difficult.
Dr Fox: Do you ever think that you should perhaps or should’ve done some more promotion? In the sense that, if other people are bringing out records and doing then perhaps you should too.
George Michael: Well, I do think, you know, even though there obviously would be good reasons to do it., I think the most important thing is that I live my life in a way that I find acceptable. So that, One, I think I have a right to do that, and two because, that way I can keep making music that makes people happy, that does something for people. I think when people start to behave …err… to look for business rather than looking for the next great record they can make, then, that’s when the music starts to go a bit pear shaped. And I’d like to think that, some of the things that people object to me not doing. or things that people would like to see me doing, I like to think that having stood back from alot of that has saved my music to some degree.
Dr Fox: Sure. Well now, from the million-selling Ladies And Gentlemen … The Best Of George Michael. We were talking in between records and you were saying that this is one of your favourites from the sort of ballad section of it, “You have been loved”. Why this one?
George Michael: I think it’s probably this and “Praying for time”. Probably two of the best lyrics I’ve ever written, in my own opinion anyway. Erm, and I think that it’s just very….I wanted to do something that reminded you a bit of those old Bert Bacharach records, but with maybe a more slightly personal lyric.
Dr Fox: It’s like French horn in the background, it’s just so lovely.
George Michael: Steve Sidwell, is the name of the player, there you go, a plug for my horn player, Steve Sidwell.
Dr Fox: Things like that, I can imagine how there are people sitting in jams, you know, the traffic is pretty horrendous tonight, and the nice thing about this is, it’s like a real chill out on a Monday, isn’t it? Something like this is very lovely.
George Michael: Yeah, and also, I’m very pleased that people attached it to Diana because she was a very special person, and I think the record does her justice you know.
Break into “You Have Been Loved”
Dr Fox: Oh what a chill that record is, it’s lovely isn’t it? Just a quicky here, just to make you smile ok. This is from Lena, I think this is coming from elsewhere in the world, “Why so nasty towards Gary Barlow? And do you fancy Robbie Williams?”
George Michael: Ha ha ha. Err, well I can answer the second question immediately, which is a no Robbie doesn’t have to worry, he doesn’t have to watch his back. Gary Barlow, I can only say…I have to say…actually, I’m very glad this question was asked, because it’s an opportunity for me to apologise to him publicly. Unfortunately……
Dr Fox: Is this humble pie? Is this a big portion of humble pie?
George Michael: Well the thing is, I’ve never in sixteen years, I don’t remember ever criticizing anyone openly in that way. And the guy called me on a bad day, I was having a really bad day…..
Dr Fox: Who called you?
George Michael: Not called me, I mean the guy that interviewed me. I was not really enjoying the interview and it kinda came out and I wish to god it hadn’t. Of course, me being the person that normally gets slagged off by everyone, and never meeting them right, the magazine comes out the next day I’m standing in the same room with the poor sod, ha ha ha, you know. I just couldn’t believe it, it was like my instant karma, I am not supposed to ….I’m definitely not supposed to criticize others, and I don’t normally, I was really out of order.
Dr Fox: I’ve never heard you do it before I have to say.
George Michael: No, it was really really out of character,and err, I apologise to him profusly. It was really out of order, so there you go, public apology.
Dr Fox: Blimey, that was a big one. That was a big bold one. We’re gonna go back to the Faith days now. The bum wiggling of the video. Historic moment there. Whatever happened to that jacket?
George Michael: I thought you were gonna say whatever happened to that bum? (both laugh) Cos, I always ask myself that question.
Dr Fox: It was a bit pert in those days George wasn’t it?
George Michael: Yes, it was a little bit more erm, what’s the word? Younger I think is the word. It still looks pretty good, I’ve got to be honest (laughs).
Dr Fox: Stand up
George Michael: No thank you, not right now (both laugh).
Dr Fox: Very pert tonight.
Breaks into “Faith”
Dr Fox: What did happen to the leather jacket then?
George Michael: Erm, I think I auctioned it off actually, I think it was probably auctioned off. They were cheap old things, you could get them down the Kings Road.
Dr Fox: Don’t tell me that, I thought it was a really flash expensive one.
George Michael: No, no, no, no.
Dr Fox: Ok. And the sunglasses, you did seem to spend the most of that decade in those glasses didn’t you?
George Michael: Yeah I know. I was hiding from the world behind my aviators. I don’t do that anymore.
Dr Fox: Does it make you feel very insecure? That job?
George Michael: What?
Dr Fox: Well, being a superstar. You know, with everyone snapping you the whole time, wanting to chat with you the whole time etc.
George Michael: No, I don’t think it makes me feel insecure, I think I …. ha ha….. I’m a past master at that anyway. I don’t know, it’s too hard to say, it happened so gradually over the years you know, that things change. No, I definitely wouldn’t say I’m insecure about it. I think it’s been good for my sense of security, just to know that people like what I do. But I could definitely do without people surveying me the whole time, yeah I guess, but you know, it’s part of the job, isn’t it?
Dr Fox: Yeah, I suppose it comes with the territory doesn’t it. Right, let’s take some calls. Here we go. Ray, good evening, how are you? from Hemel Hempstead.
George Michael: Hi Ray, how are you doing?
Ray: Hi, I’m fine mate. I’m honoured, not only do I get to talk to you, I get to talk to you first.
George Michael: Absolutely
Ray: Ha ha. Now, the question I’ve got, a very simple one to start you off. I’m sure it’s one that thousands upon thousands would want to ask, and that’s, when’s the next tour?
George Michael: I wish I could answer that for you accurately. I really am not sure right now. Err, there are several reasons that the tour next year didn’t actually go ahead, some of them are personal, some of them I actually think that it would be a bad thing for me, and some of them are proffessional and I can go into them in detail at a later date. But err, I think most of my fans know that I love to play, I just hate to actually tour.
Ray: Well, it’s nice to see new material coming out.
George Michael: Thank you, thank you, and err there’ll be more of that I’m sure. I’ll do a couple of new B-sides next year as well.
Ray: Are you encouraged by the sales of Ladies And Gentlemen?
George Michael: I’m just blown away by it, it’s just you know….I mean, I was expecting it to do well, because I think I’m the kind of artist that has had, probably had some people that aren’t neccesarily my album buyers that have liked the occasional song, and I think Greatest Hits are always good for kind of, getting all those people’s attention, but I really didn’t expect it to sell like this, this is absolutely phenomonal.
Ray: I think Parkinson might have helped.
George Michael: (snigger) I think it probably did yes.
Ray: I think people had the wrong impression of you.
George Michael: Err, I think maybe I allowed people to have the wrong impression of me for quite a while.
Ray: But the media portrayed the wrong impression.
George Michael: Yeah well, they did a pretty good job of that.
Dr Fox: Are you quite happy to allow that image to go on though?
George Michael: Well, I don’t think it really will go on now, because I think the fact that I’ve talked quite a bit this year, and the Parkinson thing etc etc. I think people have got a fairly…ha..ha…I don’t know whether rounded is the right word, but I think that people have more of an idea of who I am than probably I’ve allowed them to have.
Dr Fox: I think so George Michael: And err, I suppose that’s a good thing. That can’t be anything but a good thing really.
Dr Fox: Sure Right, Jackie from Eltom, hi Jackie.
Jackie: Hi Foxy, hi George.
George Michael: Hi Jackie, how are you doing?
Jackie: I’m fine thank you.
George Michael: Whereabouts are you?
Jackie: I’m in Eltom, in Southeast London. The question I wanted to ask you actually is, I wondered if you kept in contact with Andrew Ridgeley?
George Michael: Erm, I do, I don’t see very much of him because he lives down in Cornwall now, and Andrew doesn’t really like being in London very much. And obviously, I’m a fairly busy boy most of the time, so I don’t see much of him but we do still keep in contact.
Jackie: Oh right. And also, if I could quickly ask this one as well. Who would you most like to sing a duet with, that you haven’t already sung with so far through your career?
George Michael: To tell you the truth, I think I answered it a bit earlier on.
Right now, the only person that I can think of that I would really like to sing with is Lauryn Hill. I think she’s the greatest new singer for a long time. Not that she’s that new anymore. But err, that’s an ambition of mine at the moment, just because I’m currently obsessed with her latest album.
Jackie: I know it’ s a cheek, but would it be possible if I could have your autograph, please?
George Michael: Of course. Actually, if you listen hard, look, they’ve got me here signing …..
Dr Fox: Signing video sleeves
George Michael: Almost in between calls, if you don’t believe me, listen.
Dr Fox: Shake the gold pen
George Michael: There you go.
Dr Fox: This is yours being signed. That’s a nice squeak George, I must say
George Michael: Oh, I’m a master with this.
Dr Fox: That is beautiful in fact. Right, Karen Norton from Reading, hello.
Karen: Erm, it’s Liz fom Reading.
George Michael: Hello Liz.
Liz: Hi. My question was, I just wanted to ask you how you intend celebrating the millennium?
George Michael: Erm, I’ve been thinking about that. The kind of picture that’s being drawn at the moment is that, on the stroke of Midnight, everything is gonna go dead. So, I guess I plan on being somewhere that they don’t use a lot of electricity I think.
Liz: Surrounded by candles then?
George Michael: Yeah, something like that. I’d actually like to be somewhere that I’ve never been. I’d like to wake up on the first day of the next millenium somewhere completely out of my normal experience you know. In an igloo or something, ha ha. I don’t know, somewhere exotic, somewhere I’ve never been before, I’d like to do that. So I’m sorry, but don’t wait for your invitation to my New Years party, ha ha.
Liz: Awww, then can I be cheeky as well then and ask for the signed video as well then, please.
George Michael: Of Course, of course. So that’s one video for Liz.
Dr Fox: One video to Liz, right, lovely job. Actually, about the live thing, I just have to ask, don’t you miss being on stage? And doing a live performance? Because you seem to be very much at home there when you do it.
George Michael: Err, I do miss it to some degree, but I have to weigh that up with what my normal state of mind is when I’m touring, you know, being away from home. I’m pathetic, I’m such a home boy, it’s like, I need to be surrounded by my own things and the people I care about and stuff, and I really get very lonely on the road.
Dr Fox: What do you really miss? I mean, is there anything really stupid that you really miss?
George Michael: Oooh, Eastenders. You know I actually had Eastenders flown…How rock star is this? I had Eastenders couriered out to me last week because I wanted to know…She’d just been thrown down the stairs, I’m sorry, I’m not supposed to know whether she’s been thrown or not am I? Well, she just made her way down the stairs, before I left the country. So I just got it couriered out. I’m really excited cos my friend Martin is gonna be in Eastenders as of Boxing Day, so, that’s a big deal for me this Christmas.
Dr Fox: Have you ever thought, like, wouldn’t it be great just to do an appearance in Albert Square?
George Michael: Well I did ask, I have asked. If I can’t get on there in some little…If I can’t nudge my way into the picture somewhere, I’m just gonna make Martin wear some of my old clothing, ha ha ha.
Dr Fox: It seems a really odd thing doesn’t it? I suppose it’s quite unlikely, isn’t it? Sort of, George Michael’s doing a gig down at the community centre in Walford. It’s not normally gonna happen, is it?
George Michael: No, no. I can’t picture it. Or I could always ask if i could just wander in and ask if I could use the bog (both laugh)
Dr Fox: What a classic that would be.
George Michael: Ha ha, I don’t think that that would go down too well.
Dr Fox: Well, let me be cheeky. I mean, I know what the answers going to be, but if you don’t like going away from home, then next July 4th, why don’t you come to our Party in the Park? It’s like 120,000 people, I’ll even pick you up on my bike, I’ll bring you down, no traffic problems alright?
George Micheal: Tell you what, depending on what’s for lunch ok, and how the weather is.
Dr Fox: What do you want?
George Michael: What do I want? I’ll let you know while this is on.
Dr Fox: Ok. I bet you pick something really stupid now, ha ha.
Break into “Freedom 90”
Dr Fox: There was a great story going around when the video came out to this one George (referring to Freedom 90). That you sacked the director of this one and decided to do it all yourself. When you’re making the video, you didn’t want to be in front of the screen, all that kind of thing.
George Michael: No no no no, Wrong one. No not this one no. This one was directed by a man called David Fincher. This was fine, I wasn’t involved in this, I was there watching him filming, but I deliberately you know ……He’s a brilliant director and I wanted him, I didn’t want to do the work basically. It was Too Funky, which was the other one, with all the models in it, that caused quite alot of backstage aggro.
Dr Fox: Oh yes, I’m sorry. Mind you we’re all sort of sickly jealous thinking, that’s the greatest thing about being a world superstar, you could think, who would I like? I’ll have her, her, her and her, and they all come.
George Michael: It’s kinda like that yeah, it’s kinda like that. Oh they don’t come that easily, believe me, ha ha ha. You have to coax them.
Dr Fox: So what do you want for Christmas George? What would someone by you? Do you make lists?
George Michael: To be honest, I’m fairly impossible to buy for I really am. I feel guilty that people agonise over what to buy me because I’m really not concerned with presents you know, I’m not that kinda person really. I think I’ve already got my best Christmas present, the album’s number one, you know. Everything’s kind of Hunky Dory really.
Dr Fox: Sure. I have to say, still staggered about you know, Christmas number one on the album chart, you know. I know when it first came out and it went to number one.
George Michael: I’m pretty amazed. I mean people were telling me they thought that it would be number one for Christmas, but I’m pretty amazed that it just came in and stayed there.
Dr Fox: Because there is some big stuff around at the moment. And obviously this time of year aswell, it’s a busy time of year, I mean singles was the biggest ever sale, 2.5 million in the last week, it’s been amazing. And album sales have been phenomenal.
George Michael: Like I say, I just can’t …you know… I’m totally overwhelmed by it, it’s an amazing show of support.
Dr Fox: Is it important to you to be number one? Would you be gutted if you wasn’t?
George Michael: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, I’d be gutted if I wasn’t. I think, you know, greatest hits err, the amount of time I’ve waited to release it, and the number of tracks that are on it. I would’ve been …. I mean, I’m not gutted if…For instance, the Cher record came out right. And who could have seen that record coming you know? And if you come up against a huge pop record, that’s undoubtedly a great pop record, you know a huge pop record, then it doesn’t really gut you, because you’re like, well you know there’s a fairly logical reason that I didn’t make number one. But with this album, I think, because it’s a collection of all my favourite stuff, I would have been very disappointed. Yeah so, so it’s not looking like it’s slowing down for a while yet, so I’m pleased.
Dr Fox: We’ve had loads of emails coming in saying can we play Father Figure? It seems to be a really favourite one as well, and obviously, when they sent over the two tracks that you did live for Parkinson, they sent Outside and your version of Father Figure, so I think we’ll play that next if that’s alright with you?
George Michael: Wasn’t it A Different Corner? ha ha.
Dr Fox: I thought it was….oh . I’ll just go then now, I’ll just go.
George Michael: Ha ha, yeah, you just go. For God’s sake, who have they got in?
Dr Fox: I had too much….sorry.
George Michael: What was your name again? ha ha.
Dr Fox: Should we play A Different Corner then next?
George Michael: Yeah, A Different Corner would be nice. You mean the version from Parkinson?
Dr Fox: Yeah, the version from Parkinson.
George Michael: Oh you love to play things from the BBC then?
Dr Fox: We’re very happy to. They sent it over, we’re happy to play it. So A Different Corner it shall be then. So em, tell us the story behind this. It’s always nice to know the story behind the song.
George Michael: Behind the song? Ooh, let me see. Well it’s fairly miserable, isn’t it? So I think we can fairly safely assume that I was in a fairly miserable state of mind when I wrote it. Erm, I think it’s just about the first time you actually start feeling like your hearts been broken really. And when I look back on it, the relationship that I wrote it about was absolutely nothing, really, haha. But at the time when you’re young, I mean, when did this come out? This came out 84?
Dr Fox: 86
George Michael: 86. So I was like 22 when I wrote this, something like that. So yeah, I was kind of heartbroken for a couple of weeks and stuck it into this song. When you’d think that I’d been suffering for years, the sound of it,ha ha.
Dr Fox: The angst, the angst.
George Michael: This is the Michael Parkinson mix (in a funny voice).
Dr Fox: Thank you very much. When do you normally write your songs? Do you do them at night? In the morning?
George Michael: Erm, kind of before I go to sleep and just before I wake up is when lots of ideas come to me. Subconciously.
Dr Fox: So, you’ve got like a dictaphone next the bed or something.
George Michael: No no no, I don’t do any of that stuff. Too much of a cliche.
Break into “A Different Corner”.
Dr Fox: I have to say that that’s a staggeringly beautiful version of that song isn’t it?
George Michael: Thank you.
Dr Fox: It is. The arrangement, as the arrangement, as well as Outside as well, that we played earlier on I think was brilliant.
George Michael: Well I think it might be nice… I might make them available maybe on the new singles,you know. Or one or two of the new singles coming out. The stuff from the greatest hits, cos people seem to want to hear them again so.
Dr Fox: You’ve been pioneering as well, people buying records through the net and what have you, with your record company. Is that going to be big do you think, in the new millennium?
George Michael: I think that it will be big, but I don’t think that it’s going to be big yet. I think people are not quite used to laying down their credit card information down on to it. I mean I understand that, I totally understand that. I think that’s the biggest problem with the internet, is the privacy you know.
Dr Fox: Yeah.
George Michael: But for people like me who have no privacy, ha ha, it doesn’t really matter anymore.
Dr Fox: We’ve all got your credit card number anyway.
George Michael: Yeah exactly. So erm, I think that will be big, but not for a while yet.
Dr Fox: Ok. Well, let’s take a couple of more calls, cos I think that’s a brilliant idea at the moment. Andy, Merry Christmas, how are ya?
Andy: Merry Christmas Foxy.
Dr Fox: You’re through to George.
Andy: Alright George? I’d just like to say that it’s a great honour for me to speak with you tonight.
George Michael: Ah thank you.
Andy: The thing is. I’m looking for a bit of advice really. I’m really into singing and I feel that I’ve got quite a good voice. I’m always singing the old George Michael love songs to my girlfriend. The thing is, she doesn’t seem to appreciate my vocal talents.
George Michael: Oh really?
Andy: The thing is, I keep saying that I’m really serious about it and I really wanna…..
George Michael: So what kind of advice are you looking for? You wanna know what booze to give her first or?
Andy: No, I’ve already tried that, that doesn’t work, that makes it worse. No really, cos she said if I’m really serious about it, I should do something about it, but where do I start really?
George Michael: Where do you start?
Andy: Yeah. I mean obviously I open my mouth and words come out, but…
George Michael: To be honest, if you wanna know what I did. Although it didn’t get me anywhere. What I did, when Andrew and I started out, and actually even before I was working with Andrew. What we used to to, we used to come up to London, and we used to walk into each record company office and just swear blind that we had an appointment, ha ha. And you know, kinda bawl at the girl, the poor girl that was sitting behind the reception, until she actually thought it was genuine that she’d made a mistake. And at least 50% of the time we got in.
Dr Fox: You’re joking?
George Michael: Yeah,yeah we got in. I guess cos they thought … I suppose if a couple of kids came and did that, and I was working as an MD at a record company or an A&R guy, I suppose I’d think, if they’ve got the bottle to come in and give us this load of bullshit just to get an interview. Then we might aswell see what they’ve got, and that’s what we did. So if you get yourself together a good demo tape, one that your girlfriend can bear to listen to. Then just don’t blag your way into a few record companies.
Andy: Oh right, and also on the quick side of things, I’ve been trying to get hold of like a fan mail address, like a postal address, but I can’t seem to pick one up anywhere.
George Michael: What for me?
George Michael: Well actually, we have like an official website.
Andy: Yeah, well the thing is I don’t have a computer, that’s the thing.
George Michael: Oh well then, what’s the point? I see what you mean, an ordinary postal fanclub address. To tell you the truth, I stopped that because I found that every single organisation that we went to, or people that try and organise the fanclubs, postal fanclubs, they seem to be ripping the kids off. So now, the only official fanclub that I have is on the internet. Outside of that, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do.
Andy: I shall go and get myself a computer then I should think.
George: Oh, well that might be a bit expensive just for me.
Andy: That’s alright, it’ll be used for other things anyway won’t it.
George Michael: I hope so.
Andy: And also, could I have a couple of autographs if possible?
George Michael: Yeah, of course. Who do you want them for?
Andy: Oh, just for me and my girlfriend Helen. Could you say hello to her by the way, cos she’ll probably be listening?
George Michael: Of course sure.
Andy: Cheers George.
Dr Fox: Andy, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.
George Michael: Hello?
Dr Fox: Oh crikey.
George Michael: Did you cut her off?
Dr Fox: Oh I’m sorry….Oh sorry, Helene?
George Michael: You’ve just cut her off.
Andy: Oh no sorry, she’s not here.
Dr Fox: Oh I see, you just want to say hello.
Andy: No I meant over the radio sorry.
George Michael: Hello Helen. Happy Christmas Helen.
Andy: Cheers George.
Dr Fox: Imran hello, you’re on the radio. How are you tonight?
Imran: Hello, how are you?
George Michael: Hi. Who’s this? Anne?
Dr Fox: Imran.
George Michael: Imran. Hi Imran.
Imran: Hello, how are you?
George Michael: I’m fine thank you. How are you:
Imran: I’m such a big fan of yours. I can’t believe I’m on the radio.
George Michael: Thank you, thank you.
Imran: Anyway, my question is. If you were allowed to re-live a part of your life, which part would you re-live, and why?
George Michael: If I could re-live it?
George Michael: Ooh, that’s a difficult one. I think probably err, The Final actually, the last Wham! show. I wish I could go through that day again because it was all such a blur. It was such a big deal you know, and it was such a big thing to try and do at the time, you know, stadium, to try and say goodbye, you know. I wish that I could go through it again at the proper speed because it felt like it went past in an hour. And, I don’t really remember much about it. I was so kind of, it was such a mixture of being sad that it was over, and excited that many people were there to see us, you know. So I kind of wish that I could go through that again, and maybe, I’d like a slow motion version of singing with Aretha again, that would probably be nice.
Dr Fox: What’s your favourite George song Imran?
Imran: My favourite George song would have to be Cowboys And Angels, because it’s really emotional very nice.
George Michael: Oh, thank you. Do you like jazz music or … ?
Imran: I do. I’ve gotten sort of into it at the moment.
George Michael: Oh good. I hope I helped to convert you.
Imran: Could I please have your autograph?
George Michael: Of course. Have a good Christmas.
Dr Fox: One thing you said you just wanted to mention, I do think that it is funny actually. Ladies And Gentleman, you were saying that the title of your best of the album. Some people were going, George, that was very clever ladies and gentlemen, pretty smart, good one.
George Michael: Yeah yeah yeah. No, I just wanted to make a point. This is a point that I have to make this evening, cos no-one else is taking any notice of it. I did not call my album Ladies And Gentlemen: The Best Of George Michael, in any regard concerning, you know, the old incident. It was just that I’d actually decided the name for that album in February, so it was complete…..Maybe it was a premonition, ha ha ha. But err, I just wanted to let people know that I’m not that proud of that moment that I would actually name a greatest hits after it, which is a complete coincidence. It was called Ladies And Gentlemen because it was written about and for ladies and gentlemen.
Dr Fox: Thanks for clearing that up. Now, we’re gonna finish off with Careless Whisper, which we have to, and it’s amazing when you see the votes coming in for the hall of fame. Now this year we’ve had a record number of votes, we’ve really been going for it, and it’s incredible how many are voting for Careless Whisper. I know you wrote it when you were very young, it almost seems that…. You’d never had any idea at the time the effect it would have had on people, but that must be the lovely thing about writing a great song, is that the effect it has on people.
George Michael: Well it is, you know I have to say, from my own point of view, I really do take the way a song is received by the public very much to heart. So I have no problem in saying that I enjoy listening to the ones that I know people love. And it does something different to me to hear a record that has done well on the radio, cos it means that you’ve communicated, and that’s really what I wanna do. There are a lot of people that I think making music in a more introverted way, and I think that that makes for some incredible music. But I think my talent is about communicating with people, and if you have a huge record, then it means that you have made that connection. So yeah, I’m constantly amazed by people’s response to Careless Whisper, and constantly grateful for it.
Dr Fox: Cos New Years Day we’ll be counting them down and it’s gonna be up there isn’t it?
George Michael: I’ll be sitting there with my ear stuck to the old transistor radio.
Dr Fox: It’s been an absolute pleasure having you in. I’ve got to say that, I’m so glad you have come in, you know I love your music and so many Capital listeners … I don’t know, it’s something like, Capital’s part of London and I genuinely think that so many Londoners think that you are part of London and Capital, and part of growing up.
George Michael: Well, I think… You know, that I would agree with that, I think that I have, without question … Erm, my relationship with London is very strong, my relationship with Capital has made my relationship with London even stronger, which I’m very grateful for. And I think the fact that I grew up listening to Capital, and listening to the same types of music that people in London have been listening to has influenced that whole relationship. You know I think we listen to the same music. I grew up with a whole generation of people that grew up with Capital. So it’s very special to me, you know, the station’s very special, London’s very special, and the fact that London seems to have taken my music to heart as it were is fantastic for me, that’s why I think I’ll always live here.
Dr Fox: What can I say apart from, I wish you a very Happy Christmas.
George Michael: Thank you, you too. And thank you so much for all your support on your show.
Dr Fox: Now I’ll tell you when you hear a beautiful song, your songs are the kind of records that move people and they affect people, I think that’s really nice. I’m glad you could come in and I wish you a very Happy Christmas. I’m glad that all the bad stuff’s gone now in ’98 and you can look forward to a nice
George Michael: Oh yeah, roll on ’99, that’s what I say. Happy Christmas to everyone.
Dr Fox: Thanks George
Play out with “Careless Whisper”
Dr Fox: It’s got to be the ultimate perk working this business – that you not only get to meet George Michael, I get to sit and talk to him for an hour and forty minutes! Oh, my God! What a charmer! Will it be number one on the ‘Hall of Fame’? You can still vote – it’s up to you. Carphone warehouse, pick up a form and do it really quickly visit our website on capitalfm.com or you can fax us – 0171 766 6958. It’s twenty to eight. This is Foxy – Drivetime – 95.8 Capital FM.
- Wham! Teen Dreams Come True (NME, 1983)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael’s Interview on Magic FM Radio (2007)
- Desert Island Discs: George Michael Interview (2007)
- George Michael Interview by Jo Whiley (2002)