Listen to this George Michael interview on a Magic FM radio show in 2007 where he talked of performing at the opening of Wembley Arena, his immense admiration of Amy Winehouse and more.
Thank you very much, it is so, so very nice to be back chatting again. And how bizarre that it’s just one week to go until you’ll be playing Wembley Stadium.
GM: Yeah I know it’s incredible, incredible. I mean, I’m.. it’s probably the most excited I’ve ever been about a show actually. Possibly the final. But the final, you know, the final with Andrew was kind of sad as well. So that.. so we were looking forward to it, but we were dreading it a bit as well. In this.. on this occasion I’m just so thrilled to be opening Wembley. It’s such a historic day for me.
Well, hold that thought, let’s play a song and then we’ll talk about opening up. Because it is.. it’s a very historical moment, isn’t it?
And after the break:
.. of opening up the new Wembley Stadium. Which many people thought it was gonna go to Bon Jovi. Because they.. everyone’s been pitching for it.
GM: It wouldn’t have been right.
It wouldn’t have been.
GM: It was a little bit dodgy that an American bank closed Wembley Stadium, the old one. Let alone opened the new one. I thought that was really pushing it.
It’s not very British, is it? And how do you feel because, I mean, we’re all looking forward to going to the show. How is it in your shoes?
GM: You know, stadiums are amazing. They’re all amazing events and it’s fantastic to be able to play to my own audiences. But there’s gonna be something about this, you know, this night at Wembley. I kind of wish it was at the very end, you know.
Yeah exactly and this would be a perfect end of tour gig.
GM: Yeah really would…
But I suppose you got to get it over and done with. And with that.. it’s been open now for the FA Cup Final.
GM: Well also if I waited for it to be the end of the tour then someone else would have opened it (laughs)
Then someone else would have done it.
GM: Yes, really the point..
Did you change around the tour so you could have this moment?
GM: No I think we always.. from the end of last year, when there was a possibility of it even.. I think we always knew that whatever we could do to make sure Wembley happened, that the other dates would have to sit around that. But it’s only that, you know, it’s only in that week really that things would have been shifted about.
You mentioned earlier on, how you haven’t been more excited about a show since.. well last you played the Wembley Stadium. Although that had a hint of sadness clearly. Because that was the final Wham! gig.
GM: Well the last actual show of my own, yeah. Obviously I performed there many times in between, but always as part of benefit lineup, you know. So.. so yeah it’s very strange. I mean to think that the last show of my own that I played there I was.. wow, let me think 86 I was 23.. so you know, it’s 20 years ago, I’m 43 now and I’ll be coming up on 44 by the time next week comes along. But it’s amazing just to think that.. how much has happened since then. And to be.. for it to be another really important day in my career you know – attached to Wembley Stadium.
There are lots of people.. I’m sure you’re very close friend with management but lots of fans as well who thought this day would never come. That the very fact you’re touring at all last year was a bit of a miracle, wasn’t it?
GM: Yeah it really was to me. To me more than anyone else really.
When you look back on where you were, sort of pre last year. Where you were in your head and your life.. do you look back on that now and think; God, what on earth was up I to?
GM: Well no not really, I mean last year I was already training for this you know. I mean.. as of..I had a kind of back episode at the beginning of 2005 that.. that got me into the gym again. And.. and around that same time I started thinking you know, maybe I shouldn’t rule out the idea of doing a tour. And I don’t think anyone who came to see the show last year really did get the impression that I’m having a miserable time you know.
Well it was a great tour and you seemed incredibly happy. And let’s be honest, it must be amazing for your ego.
GM: Well you know what, you know what..
GM: Yeah professional ego, absolutely, absolutely. To be able to.. yeah I’m very relieved that I can do what I can do. In some ways it was more than just proving to myself that physically I was still up to the task, you know. It was.. it was actually a new perspective, and a new experience actually getting up on stage. Because I am 43 years old. I’m a very different person. I’m much, much more a whole person I think now and I have much, much greater appreciation of the things I have in life. So to go out there and receive that kind of warmth night after night, really.. you’d have to be in some very dark place, not to be happy right now, if you were me.
Yeah, exactly. You’d have to be an odd character. Because it has gone so well, hasn’t it. I mean, world globally. Even in America now, which obviously for years was sort of a strange place for you. They’re desperate for you to go over there and perform some gigs, and I think you’re ready to do that now as well.
GM: Yeah I’m absolutely ready and.. and I think the vast majority of people I will play to in America will be people who’ve been buying my records in the meantime, you know. I haven’t sold a lot of records in America for a long time, but I’ve sold on average about a million a time. Which is you know.. for a country that doesn’t play your current music, that’s pretty good to have a million people that sticking with you, you know. So I’m pretty much gonna be playing to those people. Because it’s arenas and I’m sure those people will be the first people to get the tickets, you know. And then there’s a possibility that I would go back and do a larger American tour, but that’s not really what I’m there for. Really what I’m there for is to play to Americans the same way I’m trying to play to as many people as I can this year, you know.
(Radio ad promoting George Michael’s upcoming “George in June” performance at Wembley Stadium)
This new tour has excited you clearly and it’s going so well. Has this made you think now you want to get back in the studio and do another album, write new music?
GM: I’m very tempted to, but I think it would be the wrong thing for me to do. I think I really do have to.. after this tour, I think, I really have to take stock. And I think, go along with the plan I originally wanted to. I really have decided that I.. 25 years with amazing support, I would love to be able to think that my music is costing nobody anything anymore. I’d love that, I would love that and.. and I still intend to do that. I wanna give my music away for free. Now you see, that its.. it’s not quite as suicidal financially because there are.. the private shows that I can play can finance recordings that I want to keep making. Cause I want to keep.. you know, the recordings are very expensive.
Do you still want to make.. you still wanna make new music?
GM: Yeah I do, but I don’t think I want to put it out there on the market. I think I wanna make it for people who are already George Michael fans, who are gonna come and get it, you see what I’m saying. So you don’t deprive anybody who wants your music of anything. You just don’t necessarily go out there and try and get on the radio anymore.
You know, George.. how Elton for example every time he puts out a single – he always says, right, he does it for AIDS charities or something, so he’ll make no money out on his singles. Whether you would do something along those lines, that when fans were willing to pay for your music, you know. Perhaps there could be a net benefit to someone else, some other third party?
GM: Well to be perfectly honest I’ve already tried that.. I’ve already tried that. And the amount of money I got for charity was pretty lousy. If I wanted to keep making money for charity what I would.. out of my music, I think then I would probably just keep releasing in a regular way and donate the money myself. Because to be honest with you, when you give people the option, they don’t necessarily go for it. I think in terms of charity donations again, I can keep making the kind of donations I’ve always made, because I’ll be working live privately, you know. So there are all kinds of things I can keep doing without being in.. in the center of this business. Which I honestly think, 25 years I’ve had a very good innings, I don’t think I should be upset about having to fight for radio, but it’s not something you want to do at 43.
Who out there at the moment of new artists.. you look at and think; I like what they’re doing?
GM: Quite a few, I mean Amy Winehouse – beyond.. beyond description! I mean, I think I talked to you about her three or four years ago, wasn’t it? Her first album came out. And you know, I was delighted when I worked out that she decided to make a pop album. I heard she was making a pop album, you know. I think it’s absolutely.. she’s.. I think it’s probably the best female voice I’ve heard in the span of my career, yeah absolutely, yeah. I’ve not heard a voice that – compared to great voices from the 60s and 70s – since the 60s and 70s, as far as I’m concerned. And she’s got one of those voices.
We were listening to the radio today and we were thinking something about the style, the voice, the way it is, the whole sound of it – it could have come from 40 years ago.
GM: The authenticity is fantastic, the authenticity is amazing.
It’s unbelievably contemporary at the same time.
GM: Oh I don’t know that it is. It’s just so good and we’re so desperate for real music, that something which is ultimately.. it is pastiche but it is fantastically well written and beautifully sung is.. I mean, it’s kind of unstoppable in such a wasteland of great, you know, radio songs. I think it’s unstoppable. Absolutely unstoppable, and that they’re obviously waiting to release the big track which is Love Is a Losing Game. They’re gonna release it at Christmas and it’s gonna be the biggest album in the world at Christmas. There’s no question! And that really, that puts joy in my heart because that’s what used to happen, you know. They used to be the kind of talent which were so overwhelming that you knew, you knew, when it got off the ground where it was going. Because it was so good and that happens so rarely now. So to see it happen with a young English girl, it’s just fantastic.
(Music: Rehab – Amy Winehouse)
How do you think America will react to you when you go back over there?
GM: Oh I’m sure it will be great because, in all honesty.. yeah mainstream America will say who’s this kind of lefty poof – we don’t need him back. This lefty stoned poof we don’t need him back.
But that’s so not what you are..
GM: Well I know, I know.. but.. but you know, I haven’t had a publicist or a manager in America for the best part of 15 years. I decided I just couldn’t take that part of my life. And so I’ve just let.. the media has kind of run riot with my name since the whole incident in the park 10 years ago or nine years ago. So my name’s been kind of laughable for a long time in America, and I’ve been fine with that. Absolutely fine with that, because I was kind of left alone and I wasn’t there much. But now I’m quite sure it’s the only place in the world where I will experience a true comeback. Because people in America haven’t heard anything really since Don’t Let the Sun Go Down.. really it’s that long, since I had a number one record there. So.. so yeah over there, there will be all this nostalgia and all they really wanna hear is Faith. The mainstream will wanna hear Faith you know, and perhaps Freedom and some Wham! But that’s not what they gonna get obviously, because my fans will come to those shows and they’ll know.. and they will be of those million people that bought the records.
Now when does this tour end? When is the last date?
GM: The last date I think is at the very end of July.
Okay. What will you do after that?
GM: After that, as I said, it looks like I’m gonna be spending some time in America. And I guess then it’s a matter of going back to America, for the tour with the dates haven’t been announced yet, but it is happening. There is an American tour. And then I honestly think – if I’m really, really honest – I think what I’m gonna do is.. I’m going to take a quick holiday and start writing my life story. I think the book has got to come before I forget all of this stuff. It’s been such a shocking couple of years in some ways, but some of this stuff has to be written down now. And you know, obviously the book gets more and more interesting by the year. But yeah, I think if will be great, that’s what I need to do to chill out and actually not.. not think about music for a little while. I think I need to do something else creative and I think I might as well learn whether I can write, you know.
Should keep a diary…
GM: I don’t know that it’ll ever come out. I don’t know that my life story would ever hit the shelves, but I think I’ve gotta write it.
Do you keep a diary?
GM: No I’m too secretive to keep a diary in case anyone found it.
You get the impression.. certain things that you say, that you’re an absolute control freak?
GM: Oh totally.
GM: Totally. Not as much as I was, because, you know, I’m much more relaxed and I think even control freaks chill out over time. I’m a control freak but really, my main area of control freakery is the future. When it comes to the future I can’t stop doing that. I mean the reason I’ve made plans for the future is because I’m afraid the future otherwise may just overwhelm me, you know. That’s just.. and I think as a celebrity in 2007 that’s quite an understandable feeling. But it’s.. I’m always in the next.. I’m always planning what’s gonna happen next, you know. And I should probably learn to just get on with enjoying what’s happening now. I’m trying, I’m definitely trying. And the shows are definitely a good way of doing that ‘cause I’m enjoying them much more than I ever did. I’m kind of in the moment – doesn’t have to be perfect, we’re all having a good time, you know.
We’ll leave it.. Iovely to speak to you! Very excited about seeing the show next week.
GM: Thank you, and I can’t imagine…
We haven’t asked the one question.
GM: What’s that? What’s the one question?
Is there any chance that Andrew’s gonna do this gig or turn up for song? I can’t imagine he would now.
GM: No no no I mean there was a.. there was a.. you know, when the rumors were flying the first time around, there was a possibility. But I hadn’t asked him yet, and he didn’t really wanna do it. And there have been plenty.. there’s plenty of 80s reunion stuff going on. I think they can survive, you know. My generation can survive without the Wham! reunion.
Anyone else you’re gonna bring on stage? A special guest lined up? At all? To do some duets?
GM: To be honest with you, I’ve still got someone I wanna ask but I haven’t plucked up the courage yet. So can’t say.
See now this week, we’ve given away.. we got this “George in June” magic, right, so again we’re having a totally George Michael dominated week, this week. You’ll be pleased to know our magic so…
GM: Sounds good to me.
We have some VVIP tickets all this week on breakfast and all day tickets to come and see you. So you asked.. you think people coming along are going to be blown away by the show?
GM: Oh I I totally hope so. I mean, I’ve been blown away.. I had no idea that going on tour could do this for me. I had no idea that going on tour would actually mend a lot of broken fences, as if were. But I do truly believe it’s the best show in the world right now. I’m not saying the best show the world ever seen – but right now I think it’s probably the best.. definitely the best pop show. And you’re not gonna see people make this much effort that often. I think.. I don’t think anyone that comes next week is gonna feel that, you know, that the hype was too much. I think we’ve got the show together, you know. I have the best band in the world, some of the best technicians in the world. And I do, you know.. and I work as hard as I can up there, to make sure that it’s an evening people are not gonna forget. So let’s hope that’s exactly what it is. I’m certainly not ever gonna forget it, you know.
Thank you very much indeed! We are so looking forward to seeing that big gig this coming Saturday. Only six days away now at Wembley Stadium. And “George in June” starts tomorrow with VVIP tickets on my show tomorrow morning, and then right across the day as well. Now if you’d like to hear the full unedited version of this interview it will be available to download as a podcast from tomorrow morning. Just go to magic.co.uk. Have a very lovely evening and don’t forget tomorrow morning VVIP tickets – wake up and win with “George in June” on Magic 105.4. Have a good night.
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- Jo Whiley’s Inside Track Interview with George Michael (2007)
- Desert Island Discs: George Michael Interview (2007)
- A Year in the Life of Wham! as Told by George Michael (Smash Hits Yearbook, 1986)