This question-and-answer article was from the series “Smash Hits Book of Personal Files” that appeared in the October 8-21, 1986 issue of Smash Hits magazine
NAME: Yorgos Kyriakou Panayiotou.
BORN: June 25, 1963 in Finchley, North London
FIRST MEMORY: Seeing some goats at a zoo when I was three or four years old.
BIGGEST THRILL AS A CHILD: Getting a purple-and-blue bike when I was seven. I dreamt about it for weeks before. I was really pleased with it:
DID YOU SIT AT THE BACK OR FRONT OF THE CLASS? The back. I was always lazy academically but usually managed to scrape through. We’re going back to our school before Christmas to do an end-of-term personal appearance for the teachers and pupils.
FIRST CRUSH: My first crush was on my school teacher, Mrs. Wilson, when I was about six.
FIRST RECORD BOUGHT: “The Right Thing to Do” by Carly Simon in 1973. I bought it in a record shop in Cyprus when we were on holiday there. I’ve not liked many of her records since then, although ‘Why? this year was pretty good.
FIRST CONCERT: Elton John at Earls Court in 1975, I think. He was spot on, brilliant, especially considering how big Earls Court is. It was a fantastic show.
FIRST DATE: When I was 14 I went out with a girl named Lesley Bywaters who was in my class at school. I looked a lot older than 14 and we used to go up to clubs in London, like the Global Village and Cherry’s. But we only went out for about two months. I was well into being a soul boy then — I really liked people like Sylvester, Chic, etc.
WERE YOU UGLY THEN? I looked absolutely horrendous. I wouldn’t say I’m a swan now but then I was the traditional ‘ugly duckling.’ I went through that bad phase of puppy fat and stuff…. I didn’t stand much chance with the girls.
FIRST GROUP: The Executives
PREVIOUS JOBS: Cinema usher, DJ in restaurants,
DOES BEING SO RICH MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY? Well, like a lot of things in life, what I earn is out of proportion, out of perspective, unfair, but I don’t feel guilty because I clear my conscience by giving a lot of it away. I don’t make donations and then ask for it to be publicized. I just do it when I think there’s an urgent need for something. I’m not doing it so that people will think I’m the most generous person in the world. I wouldn’t be a pop star if I was. I’d be out there trying to solve all the things that are wrong with the world. But I’m too selfish to do that.
WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY? People who assume they know something about you when they meet you for the first time. People who think I’m a slag because they’ve read about my ‘exploits’ in the News of the World. What else? Customs officials. Since I started wearing an earring I get nabbed every time I go through. They take everything apart — they get shaving foam, all my Clinique range, the shampoo, the conditioner, the contact lens solution all over them. Serves ’em right.
DO YOU MISS BEING IN WHAM? No. Not really. All Wham! were ever about was saying we’re here. this is all there is, enjoy it.” That’s all. And people couldn’t take that. People just thought we were prats. We were the first group since the days of The Beatles who didn’t relate their personalities to their music. And people couldn’t understand that. They thought that bloke poncing around in the pretty blond hair with the shorts and the teeth was me! They couldn’t understand that it was me trying to be the ultimate performer, reflecting what I saw as the ultimate pop song in the only way possible.
HOW DO YOU WRITE A NUMBER ONE HIT? A great pop song has something about it that will appeal to millions of people. There are different ways of doing that. You can do it in a crass way, or in an uplifting way. I like to have a line or two that makes your ear cock up when you hear them on the radio. Like “guilty feet ain’t got no rhythm.” How many people put a word like feet in a love song? It’s hardly a romantic word!
WHAT’S THE WORST SONG YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN? ‘Bad Boys.’ I hate it. It’s like an albatross around my neck. It’s too formularised. Those couple of months — that record and the ‘Fantastic’ album — were the worst point in my career. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I didn’t know what I was doing. Still I think ‘Fantastic’ was a reasonably good first album made under a lot of pressure.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY PASTIMES? No, I don’t really — just dancing, clubbing and drinking …
DO YOU HAVE ANY AMBITIONS LEFT? I’d like to be one of the best known artistes of my time …
CAN YOU IMAGINE BEING OLD? I’ve thought about this, actually. I’m not frightened of getting to 40 or 50. I’m not going to be one of those people who sits up worrying about how many wrinkles they’ve got. Anyway I’ve already decided I’m going to wrinkle distinguishably. I’ve got the wrinkles all worked out, where they’re going to be!
- George Michael’s Interview with Gay Times (2007)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)
- George Michael Interview on Q Magazine (December 1998)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)