The article “LOW-DOWN: More than 20 things you’ll need to know about… George Michael” was published in the London newspaper The Observer on March 17, 1991.
Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, better known as George Michael, plays Wembley Arena on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week. 12,000 fans are expected to attend each night. Tickets, costing between £17.50 and £20, were sold out in hours.
The son of a Greek-Cypriot restaurateur, George was born in Finchley in 1963. He spent holidays in Cyprus but denies being conscious of his Mediterranean roots: ‘I have never felt any connection between the Greeks and me other than how hairy I am.’
His potency as a sex symbol seems to involve his hair. At concerts, audiences chant ‘Beard! Beard! We like your I beard! Beard! Beard!’ – an allusion to his hit record ‘I Want Your Sex’. His current tour was launched with an unveiling of his new, fringed haircut (above).
From 1982 to 1986 Wham! (George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley) had no fewer than 11 top-10 hits. George’s subsequent solo career resulted in a further three number one singles and two number one albums. Around the world, he has had over lOO number one records.
At the age of 16, George wrote ‘Careless Whisper’, the song that later launched his solo career and became his most successful disc, on a bus journey from Bushcy to DJ at the Bel Air restaurant in Hertfordshire.
As an adolescent he was notoriously unprepossessing: plump, bespectacled, frizzy-haired and shy, with what he calls ‘one big bushy eyebrow’, which he later had treated to make it into two, smaller, bushy eyebrows.
In 1985, when Wham! became the first Western band to play in China, George underwent a radical change of image. Chinese girls are supposed to prefer smooth, hairless faces, and George’s designer stubble disappeared.
On another concert tour, Wham! were criticised for stuffing shuttlecocks down their trousers. ‘What do they expect us to do?’ retorted George. ‘Recite the Gormenghast trilogy?’
In 1989 he earned £1 million for a two-minute advertisement for Diet Coke. It was later withdrawn by the company because it was ‘boring and pretentious’.
Last year, George Michael was ranked the 128th richest person in the UK – ahead of Paul McCartney.
As well as owning a £2 million celebrity retreat in California. George has a millionaire’s hideaway called Whispering Ash in London. Its attractions include white carpets and white sofas. Once a week, his mother comes round to clean the place up.
When his close friend Elton John suffered throat problems in 1987, George sent him 100 red roses.
He is left-handed and will only allow himself to be photographed from the left.
He has often been told to get lost while carol-singing in disguise in Hertfordshire with Andrew Ridgeley.
Earlier this year, George sacked the Inspirational Gospel Choir of London for refusing to back his song ‘Father Figure’, which they said was ‘too explicit’. The ‘raunchy’ line in question was, ‘For just one moment, to be bold and naked by our side’.
The import of the revelations contained in his official autobiography, Bare (dubbed Bore by the music industry), can be gauged by: ‘ I was a great masturbator.’
Never afraid of seeming pretentious, he once wrote ‘Explore monogamy’ in lipstick on girlfriend Kathy Yeung’s back.
In 1987 he turned down a £500,000 offer to pose nude for Playgirl magazine.
In 1989 the Sun reputedly paid him £100,000 damages after falsely alleging that he had drunkenly gatecrashed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s party. He gave the money to charity.
George’s generosity is legendary: on his current tour he gave the entire 200-strong crew a free leather jacket each, a gesture costing thousands.
Taking the Michael Curriculum Vitae
- Date of birth: 25/06/63.
- Marital status: single.
- Educational qualifications: O-levels and Art and English at A-level.
- Previous experience: building site worker; disc jockey in restaurant; cinema usher. Also worked in father’s restaurant (sacked) and for British Home Stores (sacked).
- Current salary: around 7 million a year.
- Serious girlfriends: Pat Fernandez, Kathy Yeung (right).
- Alleged girlfriends: Fawn Hall and Brooke Shield.
‘I slept with Sheffield Wednesday’.
How often George does what
- Once a year (at least): has a number one record.
- Once a week: gets drunk.
- Once a day: earns 66,000.
- More than once every 1 5 minutes: thinks about sex.
Leather Jackets, fake tan, sun glasses, hair gel, cowboy boats.
Little Known Fact
There are 56 people called Panayiotou in the London telephone directory (below).
The People’s Poet
George on cocaine: ‘I think it’s the most disgusting drug. There are clubs I’ve gone to where I’ve been the only person going to the toilet alone.’
George on whether or not he is gay: ‘If people have this image of me romping around in bed with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’m not going to spoil their fun.’
George’s sex lyrics: (banned from daytime playing by the BBC) Sex is natural, sex is good. Not everybody does it. But everybody should.
LOOKALIKES: Princess Diana, George Best.
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- Wham! You’re On Your Own, George (Sunday Times, 1986)
- Andrew Ridgeley on Life With and After Wham! (Hello!, 1997)
- Last Wham! Interview: No. 1 Magazine (1986)
- A Year in the Life of Wham! as Told by George Michael (Smash Hits Yearbook, 1986)