Below is the transcript of the George Michael interview with Simon Bates from April 1989. It was released in the cassette “25 Years Of Pop – 1992.”
INTERVIEWED BY SIMON BATES, 1989
In the spring of 1988 George Michael was at a crucial point in his career. He’d split Wham! a couple of years earlier and after a period of “excess”, he’d released his first solo album Faith and was halfway through a world tour set to turn him into a fully-fledged international superstar. Strongly principled and extremely private, he met Simon Batles in April in Paris…
Looking back at the old image that Wham! used to have, is your show still sexy, still full frontal rock’n’roll?
It’s probably a little more adult. It’s sexy, but in a humorous way. I’ve had to deal with some criticism of the level of innuendo in the show and things I do between my knees. I can’t believe people have so little sense of humour. The girls might think it’s a turn-on but the boys just think it’s a laugh. I take it very lightly.
BATES: Are you as fit as you look?
Yeah, I’m very fit. I had a back problem, it’s a congenital problem I’ve had for many
The British press have said you have your own personal fitness adviser. Is this true?
Yes it is actually.
So what does he do – get you up at six o’clock in the morning and make you run around the Champs Elysee?
No, I’ve been really lazy! I’m not that obsessed with fitness – I KNOW I’m really fit and the shows make me fitter.
Touring is not only hard work, it’s expensive. Why bother to tour at all?
You give the impression that you regret the amount of touring you have to do.
I’m not regretting it, I’m just looking forward to the next six months with trepidation. I miss my family and friends and home so much by the end of the tour. To be away from my normal life for nine months scares me a bit, but not to the point that I won’t go through with it. But you do realize what a long road it is when you start out on it.
How do you look back on Wham!? Is it now something you’re embarrassed about or do you look back on it with nostalgia?
I’m not far enough removed from it to be nostalgic about it. There’s very little I shudder at. A couple of videos, but musically I’m still very proud of the vast majority of the material. There’s very little I wish I hadn’t done.
Do you recognise yourself from those days?
There are points where I don’t. Somewhere between Go Go and Last Christmas. Musically I’ve always done exactly what was honest to my character and my character hasn’t changed that vastly, but visually I do wonder what the hell was going through my mind to want to look like that! At the time it all seemed to be working very well, so I suppose I got a bit carried away. I was only 20 years old – not exactly the wise old man of rock’n’roll.
Are you still in touch with Andrew?
Yeah. We’re great friends, exactly the same as we’ve always been. We see each other less but something that’s been there that long doesn’t change.
Andrew isn’t in the music business anymore – are things healthy for him financially?
l don’t think he’ll ever have any problems financially. He’s a clever boy. We made enough money with Wham! for Andrew to be financially secure for the rest of his life. There’s no problems between us at all.
There were a lot of
rumours that after Wham! split you went on a booze bender.
It was during Wham! actually. The last six months to a year of Wham!
l think l needed to distance
Bros said recently how much they admired you. Bros seem to mirror the Wham! success – what advice would you have for them?
Well, Wham! were very lucky in that we didn’t have people screaming and going mad at us until the third or fourth single because we weren’t with hindsight automatic scream material when we first started. Bros obviously are. I would just say to take care over the time you put into the promotion of this kind of wave. That’s already here, so take care about the amount of time you devote to pushing this area and maybe place as much emphasis as you can on writing the next album.
Did you make a lot of money with Wham!?
Oh yes, I could have retired gracefully. Absolutely.
Are you buying houses in Australia and Hawaii and Los Angeles?
No, I’m not buying houses anywhere except in good old England.
How do you make certain you don’t get ripped off?
I’ve always been pretty unconcerned how much my bank balance is rising. On the other hand I’m a very proud person and I hate to think anyone’s ripping me off so I’ll keep track of it to make sure no-one’s creaming stuff off the top of it simply from a position of pride. However, I do think pop stars are excessively overpaid and there are points at which the only way your conscience can balance it out is to occasionally do something for charity and try and put some of it back.
There’s a rumour flying round that you’re so concerned about the investments you make that you withdrew your money on principle.
It was an investment I made without any real political consideration so when I found out about it I got rid of those shares. It was an artillery company making arms.
Do you know how much you’re worth?
I’ve no idea! A lot less than I’m reported to be, unless my accountants have been lying to me. I haven’t made as much money as people would expect.
You had a big reputation for clubbing and living it up. While you’re touring does that still go on?
Yes, though I don‘t do it very much anymore.
Are you a happy drunk?
Yes.,VERY happy. I’m even nicer to people than I usually am.
Are you a giggler in the corner?
I’m quite gregarious… and then I fall asleep. I’m fun to be around when I’m drunk. I now stay in the nights before a gig, but when I’ve got a few days off I tend to go out after a gig. Going out clubbing on tour isn’t that much fun anyway because everyone knows you’re in town and they stand and gawp and you have a little VIP area.
I thought you enjoyed all that!
No. I enjoy clubs and I like going to clubs where l can be comfortable because I’m really good with people I’m comfortable with. I’ve been going to clubs all through Wham! and since, so in
Do you write songs based on personal experience?
Oh yes, definitely. If writing is the centre point of your life creatively and you can’t apply your lyric writing to the person you love, then you’re not really going to write great lyrics, I don’t think. These are all things that I would want to sing to a particular person, not just because they sound romantic.
Are you honest in your relationships?
I would say I’m honest. I have my dishonest moments, the same as everyone else – everyone plays games and pulls at people’s jealousies and fears, but I’m honest compared to most people. I like to get to the heart of things.
How do you manage to do that when your girlfriend Kathy is in Los Angeles and you’ve
going round the world?
Oh, how I always manage. Honesty is only a phone call away. I don’t think distance makes any distance.
How often do you see each other?
Quite often. Cathy came with me on the first half of the tour.
Did she storm out of the tour as was said?
No. she didn’t. Actually we really shouldn’t talk any more aobut it to be honest because I’ve promised her and I think that’s only fair.
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael Interview in Blitz Magazine (June 1988)
- Wham! Teen Dreams Come True (NME, 1983)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael Interview in The Face (August 1985)