It’s been four years since George Michael passed away on December 25, 2016 — and his legacy lives on. He will be forever in the minds and hearts of all his fans, and his music will continue to be enjoyed by future generations.
But how did George Michael want to be remembered?
Here’s a collection of quotes from his interviews on how he wants to be remembered, and what he wants the world to remember about him:
On being remembered as a good person
I’ve probably given the media quite a lot of fodder over the years, most of which has been quite well-documented with the odd headline here in there, and I’ve kept The Sun in business. However, while I’ve been doing all of that I have I have made the odd record or two and I guess that’s why people always keep a place for me in your heart. I always write my songs to touch people or strike a chord and I guess people really get that, so all in all I’d say for my music and hopefully being a really good friend to people and hopefully being a really caring, good and reliable personSOURCE: George Michael, Mojo Magazine (August 2014)
But beyond the eulogies from artists such as Adele and Chris Martin, who sang A Different Corner at that year’s Brit Awards, how did the man himself want to be remembered? His first thought was as ‘a great singer songwriter’ from a.period that produced music’s last true superstars — names such as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. ‘But really’, he concluded, ‘it’s just the songs and I hope people think of me as someone a somebody who had some kind of integrity I hope I’m remembered for that’.SOURCE: Christie’s Catalogue: The Legacy
On being remembered for his music
“I think, to tell you the truth,” he says, “that I’m already regarded as one of the main pop writers for the Eighties. But I want to be regarded as that through the Nineties and do something to carry on, something that’s really memorable, so the music becomes something historical. I think that my music deserves it.SOURCE: “George Michael, Seriously , Rolling Stone magazine (January 28, 1988)
“At what I do, I’m the best. My talent is very traditional. I’m not interested in anything other than songs that stand the test of time. I’ve always wanted to please people. I’m never happy with a song warmly received than with a smash people are still going to hear in fifteen years.”SOURCE: “I Am What I Am”, Q Magazine (December 1998)
I think some of those songs were a lot stronger than a lot of the pop that was made at the time and some of those Wham! records will be remembered for a long time.SOURCE: ‘George Michael Wants Your Respect’, Spin Magazine (1987)
I want to go down in history as someone who has done something remarkable and I think I’ve done quite a lot that’s remarkable already, but I want to take it that much further.SOURCE: George Michael: The Glummest Man in Pop? (Star Hits, March 1988)
I think I am capable of blanketing the planet because my music is good enough to do it.SOURCE: “George Michael: Tales from Gymnasium”, The Face Magazine (November 1987).
On why his music resonates with the audience
The best way to write something lasting is to be very personal. It’s not picking the bones. I don’t think you can take your personal experiences and water them down for people. I do feel vulnerable but that’s one of the main things that sets me apart from other people in my position. I allow myself to be that involved.”SOURCE: George Michael Interview in Blitz Magazine (June 1988)
“Okay. I have a certain amount of ability,” he says, “but the rest is pure hard work. I work my ass off to make sure that once I’ve made the record. everything else is up to the same standards. I think I am very good at those things. I think I have an ability to take my music as far as it can go in this industry.”SOURCE: George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)
“I think the most important thing is to put your heart into it,” he explained to Universal International Division. “You have to have this need to honestly express yourself through your music, rather than just wanting to show off and make a bit of easy money. It’s always been my aim to be very direct in my songs, to show real emotion, and that’s never changed. When music truly comes from the heart it can be just as much of an artwork as a painting or a novel.”SOURCE: George Michael: Be Humble (2014)
After three decades of hits, is it possible for him to analyse or pinpoint what exactly are the ingredients that go into making music that stands the test of time? He considers for a moment. “I think it’s heart,” he says eventually. “It’s the desire to communicate genuinely, rather than a desire to show off and make a bit of money. I always had a strong intent to be direct and emotional with my songs, and that’s never left me. When music comes from the heart it’s as much an artistic statement as a painting or a book.”SOURCE: George Michael Voices Hope, Ham & High (2014)
A lot of my character is very evident in the way that I write.SOURCE: An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
I do think my real privilege is that I still believe in what I do and I think I’m still capable of making people happy with my music and after 30 years, that’s just amazing!SOURCE: George Michael’s Interview by Phil Marriot on Health Recovery, Symphonica and White Light (2012)
You know, I`ve always thought it a stroke of luck that what I like to do musically relates to an awful lot of people. (`Faith` is) a fine collection of songs, and I knew it was going to be a very, very successful commercial album. I don`t think it depended on any sort of gimmickery or imagery. I think it`s a lot more genuine than a lot of music that`s selling now.SOURCE: “Michael Unmasked:” George Michael Interview in Chicago Tribune (1988)
On making music until the end
I want to go all the way, I want to work until the day I die, I want to have some thing creative to do, somewhere to take things, you know, creatively, I want to drop dead in the studio.SOURCE: An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
The moment I finished the track Patience’, he said, ‘I remember driving home listening to this album that I never thought would get finished or even made at some point. And I remember thinking, that’s enough. I finally thought if a bus hit me tomorrow I’d be happy with the music I’d left in the world’.SOURCE: Christie’s Catalogue: Something Miraculous
I just hope that I’ll stay around musically for as long as I can. I’d love to think that I will still be satisfying myself and other people as a musician until the day I die.SOURCE: ‘Souled Out: George Michael’ Published in Interview Magazine (1988)
How do you remember George Michael? What is it about him that you couldn’t forget? Please share your thoughts why George Michael will forever be in your heart?
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael on Anselmo Feleppa
- George Michael in Q Magazine Interview (October 1990)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)