The interview “1983 – Our Triumphant Year By Wham: George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley look back on 12 months of music and mania” was written by Debbi Voller for the No. 1 magazine and published on December 31, 1983.
George: “ This year’s focussed all the things that we’ve wanted to do for the last 4 years; that’s how long we’ve been playing together. But I’ve been planning all this since I was a kid!
“Last year we knew we wanted to be a successful pop band and we knew we had a couple of good songs, But we didn’t really have any idea where we wanted to end up. we want it to be big, to be the best and to be No. 1, but we didn’t really have any perspective on how possible that was.
“To be totally honest, I didn’t expect us to have come this far in a year, we must be one of the top three bands in the country now! We didn’t realize the tour was going to do so much for us, or that we were going to be part of this whole teenybop thing. But it’s fantastic!
“Now it’s just a matter of going that little bit further …”
Andrew: “…. Yeah, the only thing that has been lacking this year is that elusive number one single!”
George: “ but the way I look at it, we’ve had everything else — the number one album, 8 or we’ve really enjoyed — we’ve been pleased to see how mixed our audience is. we haven’t been swamped by this “mania” thing. it’s been 50/50 boys and girls which means we’re being appreciated for more than one thing at a time.
“All that’s left is the number one single. If that had already happened would be wondering what to do with ourselves next year!”
Andrew: “I reckon ‘Club Tropicana’ could have been number one if it had had the right exposure, but we were shoved onto the early half of Top Of The Pops the two weeks it was out earlier in the evening!”
George: “ It’s sold 400,000 copies though and got to number 4, almost as many as ‘Bad Boys’ which got to number two, so we were really pleased … “
Andrew: “….We were really pissed off!”
George: “ It’s just a shame we can’t get a new single out now the top the whole tour business. But we’re in the middle of this court case with Innervision, so instead we’ve got that Megamix out, which we think is a piece of shit.”
Andrew: “ We disown it!”
George: “We really have changed an awful lot this year, we are older and wiser.”
Andrew: “We’ve grown up a lot. I mean it was a whole year ago that I was a year younger!”
George: “That sounds silly but it’s true. We are always saying it’s hard to work out whether we’ve changed due to being a year older or a year more experienced. Obviously the business makes you grow up very quickly, but a lot of people grow up between 19 and 20.
“We were cynical 20 to an extent when we came into the music business, not as cynical, but it has got such a reputation for being a rip-off business that we knew exactly what we were going into.”
“We’ve always been very cautious all the way through the year and it’s helped. We could have been ripped off over and over again — the number of people that try it!
“ You soon learn how to react to different people. You learn who to be tough with because they walk on you if you don’t stick up for yourself, and you learn who you can be natural with.”
You’re okay if you can turn on that harder side at the right moment and know you’re turning it on for business reasons, then turn it off, go home and not take your family for granted.”
Andrew: “We both still live at home and we keep each other down to earth, and Shirley keeps us down to earth.”
George: “ I’m glad we stayed at home for the last year, because — It’s not nostalgia — but I like to have certain things which haven’t changed, because so much else changes around you.”
“Now we’ve got very defined goals and the confidence to go ahead and achieve them. Next year’s going to be exciting musically for us because we can start to experiment. When you’re new you have to be immediately commercial or you’ll just be dismissed.”
“We still want to stay within funk and soul but we want to try a few other areas as well. we’d like to do different styles and get away with each one, which we try to an extent with fantastic by doing slow stuff, Latin American stuff in heavy funk.
“But we’d like to be more extreme and I’ll be doing the production on the next album so it should be possible.”
George: “I voted for the first time this year, only because of the nuclear thing — I have no belief in any of the parties.
“I voted Labour because I think Thatcher’s doing awful things to the country. even if she is slowly, slowly doing something towards the economic depression, it’s not worth what she’s doing to society as a whole.
“And of the three parties the only one likely to do anything about disarmament is Labour, though even they tend to pussyfoot around things.”
Andrew: “ I voted Labour on two issues, public spending and nuclear arms. Oh, I’m so happy Cruise missiles are here! I’m going to get my own Cruise so when they tell me there’s one coming I can set mine off.”
George: “I admire all the people at Greenham Common for having the courage of their convictions, but they do honestly think they’re wasting your time.
“The thing is, if you don’t vote, you’ve got no right to talk about it– that’s why I did it really, for my own conscience. If you don’t vote, you’ve got no right to argue about it.”
George: “I’m glad the Cure have been charting this year, and Paul Weller’s been more adventurous …”
Andrew: “ Spandau got big this year …”
George: “ I can’t honestly think of any good bands that have come out of this year, not successful bands. I think this year’s been a non-event, the only good thing about 83 is that we’re here!
“That’s why all the papers were saying we’re this year’s pop sensation, because everyone got big last year, like Duran and Culture Club.
“So it’s our triumphant year … thank you!
Andrew: “Thank you, and we love you all!”
- BBC Hardtalk Interview with George Michael (2003)
- Andrew Ridgeley on Life With and After Wham! (Hello!, 1997)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- A Year in the Life of Wham! as Told by George Michael (Smash Hits Yearbook, 1986)