What makes Wham! members George Michael and Andrew happiest? Maintaining their long-lasting friendship, working hard on hit songs and hearing their fans scream with love and appreciation!
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! have been the best of friends for nearly 10 years. Since their smash single “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” made America Wham!-conscious, these two England-natives have received remarkable acclaim in a very brief amount of time!
After three hit singles (their other top-ten smashes include “Careless Whisper” and “Everything She Wants”) and a
After all, having achieved such heightened success at their ten-der ages of 22, both George (born on June 25. 1963) and Andrew (his birthdate is January 26, 1963) consider their musical and personal working partnership a serious one.
“Wham! is more of our friendship than a band,” explains Andrew with his big brown eyes twinkling “it is what we are together as writers and performers that makes what we do work so well. George and l basically have the same ideas on how our songs should be recorded.”
Wham!‘s latest hit tune, “Everything She Wants,” from their second album Make It Big (their first LP is entitled Fantastic), is, at the moment, brown-haired George’s favorite song from those he has recorded so far.
“l think it’s the one that is going to last the longest for me,” he grins, showing his perfectly white teeth.
“Besides our songs, I think our popularity must have something to do with our music being accessible to so many people. Parents like to approve of something their kids are in to. Parents approve of us and we like that. We also like making good pop songs.”
And good pop songs are exactly what has made George and Andrew famous all over the world! Within the last year Wham! became the first Western music group to perform in China, an event which took many months of organization.
It took us 10 months of negotiations to get permission to play there,” George recalls softly. “We felt very honored.”
What did it take to be invited to play? Reveals the 6′ tall singer, “The Chinese government asked for a summary of what each of our songs was about. I guess they were fairly satisfied with our lyrics and found that there wasn’t anything too dangerous in them.”
What exactly goes into Wham!’s musical lyrics, most of which George writes and produces? Though most of the band’s musical influences are derived from the Motown soul sound, George is quick to point out his other sources of inspiration.
“The melodies we have are very simple to hum,” he says thoughtfully. “Obviously Motown is an influence on our songs. But I think songwriting is the most important influence of all. Basically it is always the pop sound that I go after in my songs.
“I think I can write good songs,” continues George humbly. “And both Andrew and l are capable musicians. We need to have spark and energy come out of our songs across the radio.”
At the beginning of their young careers, George and Andrew were ready for stardom. They planned their musical careers with each other while still attending school in England and were determined to make all their dreams a reality. But were there people who didn’t support the guy’s ambitions? Unfortunately, yes.
“In 1983, right after our song ‘Wham Rap’ became a hit in England, my dad said our success was only going to last six months,” whispers George as he remembers that day.
“But now I think Dad has accepted that his analysis was wrong. My parents did try to discourage me from my music (George is the only son to Jack and Lesley Michael and the brother of Yioda and Melanie).
“It was hard to convince Mum and Dad that l was one person in a thousand who had the ability to succeed.”
George was right – he’s one of music’s most successful musicians today! George held onto his musical dreams just as his pal Andrew did – even through the rough times.
“My parents (Andrew’s family includes his parents Jenny and Albert and brother Paul) finally gave up trying to control what I was eventually going to do with my life.” confides 6′ tall Andrew about the often confusing times of choosing a career.
“I knew that I always wanted to be famous. Ever since I was young I can remember dreaming about being a celebrity.”
Andrew’s boyhood fantasy would eventually come true after an eventful day when a boy named George Michael enrolled in Andrew’s Bushey, England school when the two were only 12 years old.
George and Andrew quickly became friends and shared each other’s secrets and musical goals.
“We met at an age when we were different in character,” remembers George as he envisions in his mind what he and Andrew looked like at the time they met.
“Andrew always knew how to have a good time in school and with the other kids. I was a lot more quiet and reserved. I was overweight and wore glasses. I sat in the back of class and kept quiet until I met Andrew! When I started sitting next to him I talked a lot!”
Now, following years of dreaming for stardom, down-to-earth George and Andrew are enjoying their success with family and friends. They’re eternally grateful to everyone who has helped them make it big – especially their fans!
“i want people to hear our music,” enthuses George. “It’s important to make our audiences enjoy our show! We like making young girls scream!
“There are hardly any other young bands today that want to communicate with the new breed of teenage fans. We want them to join in with us.”
And George adds without a moment’s hesitation, “The young girls love what we do and we love what they do for us. This is important to Andrew and me.”
What else is important to the guys? A letter from you! Write to them here at BOP, PO Box —-. Hollywood, CA 90078. You make all their lives worthwhile!
- Wham! Teen Dreams Come True (NME, 1983)
- Last Wham! Interview: No. 1 Magazine (1986)
- ‘Souled Out: George Michael’ Published in Interview Magazine (1988)
- George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)
- George Michael Interview in Graffiti Magazine (1987)