George Michael

George Michael
George Michael

George Michael in concert in Belgium, on 14 November 2006
Background information
Birth name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou
Born 25 June 1963 (1963-06-25) (age 48)
East Finchley, North London, England
Genres Pop rock, New Wave, blue-eyed soul
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer
Instruments Vocals, multiple instruments
Years active 1980–present
Labels Columbia, Sony
Associated acts Wham!, Band Aid, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Mutya Buena, Whitney Houston
Website Official website
Notable instruments
John Lennon model "Z" Steinway[1]

George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on 25 June 1963) is a British musician, singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to fame in the 1980s when he formed the pop duo Wham! with his school friend, Andrew Ridgeley. His first solo single, "Careless Whisper", was released when he was still in the duo and sold about six million copies worldwide.[2]

As one of the world's best-selling music artists, Michael has sold over 100 million records worldwide as of 2010.[3] His 1987 debut solo album, Faith, has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and made several records and achievements in the United States.[4] Michael has garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists".[5]

Michael has won numerous music awards throughout his 30 year career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.[6][7]

In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael as the most played artist on British radio between the period of 1984–2004.[8] The documentary A Different Story was released in 2005; it covered his personal life and professional career.[9] In 2006, George Michael announced his first tour in 15 years. The 25 Live tour was a massive, worldwide undertaking by Michael, spanning three individual tours over the course of three years (2006, 2007 and 2008).[10]


Early life

Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, North London.[11][12] His father was Kyriacos Panayiotou, a Greek Cypriot restaurateur who moved to England in the 1950s and changed his name to Jack Panos.[13] Michael's mother, Lesley Angold (née Harrison, 1937–1997),[14] was an English dancer who died from cancer in Fulham.[14][15] Michael spent the majority of his childhood in North London, in the home his parents bought soon after his birth. While in his early teens, the family moved to Radlett. There Michael attended the Bushey Meads School, where he met Andrew Ridgeley. The two had the same career ambition of being musicians.[16]

His involvement in the music business began with his working as a DJ, playing at clubs and local schools around Bushey, Stanmore and Watford. This was followed by the formation of a short-lived ska band called The Executive with Ridgeley, Ridgeley's brother Paul, Andrew Leaver, and David Mortimer (aka David Austin).[17]

Musical career

1981–1986: Wham!

Michael first found success after forming the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The band's first album Fantastic reached no. 1 in the UK and produced a series of top 10 singles including "Young Guns (Go For It!)", "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" and "Club Tropicana". Their second album, Make It Big, was the breakthrough that made the duo international superstars, reaching No. 1 on the charts in the US Singles from that album included "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Freedom", "Everything She Wants", and "Careless Whisper", the latter of which was Michael's first solo effort as a single.

Michael sang on the original Band Aid recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and donated the profits from "Last Christmas/Everything She Wants" to charity. In addition, he contributed background vocals to David Cassidy's 1985 hit "The Last Kiss", as well as Elton John's 1985 successes "Nikita" and "Wrap Her Up". In 1985, in an exclusive foray into popular journalism, Michael interviewed David Cassidy for David Litchfield's legendary Ritz Newspaper.[18]

Wham!'s tour of China in April 1985, the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, generated enormous worldwide media coverage, much of it centred on Michael. The tour was documented by celebrated film director Lindsay Anderson and producer Martin Lewis in their film Foreign Skies: Wham! In China and contributed to Michael's ever-increasing fame.[19]

With the success of Michael's solo singles, "Careless Whisper" (1984) and "A Different Corner" (1986), rumours of an impending break up of Wham! intensified. The duo officially separated during the summer of 1986, after releasing a farewell single, "The Edge of Heaven" and a singles compilation, The Final, plus a sell-out concert at Wembley Stadium that included the world premiere of the China film. The Wham! partnership ended officially with the commercially successful single "The Edge of Heaven", which reached no.1 on the UK chart in June 1986.[20]

Solo career

The beginning of his solo career, during early 1987, was a duet with soul music icon Aretha Franklin. "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" was a one-off project that helped Michael achieve an ambition by singing with one of his favourite artists, and it scored number one on both the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100 upon its release.[21][22]

For Michael, it became his third consecutive solo number one in the UK from three releases, after 1984's "Careless Whisper" (though the single was actually from the Wham! album Make It Big) and 1986's "A Different Corner". The single was also the first Michael had recorded as a solo artist which he had not written himself. The co-writer, Simon Climie, was unknown at the time, although he would have success as a performer with the band Climie Fisher in 1988. Michael and Aretha Franklin won a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best R&B Performance – Duo or Group with Vocal for the song.[23]

1987–1989: Faith

During the autumn of 1987, Michael released his first solo album, Faith. In addition to playing a large number of instruments on the album, he wrote and produced every track on the recording, except for one, which he co-wrote.[24]

The first single released from the album was "I Want Your Sex," during the summer of 1987. The song was banned by many radio stations in the UK and US, due to its sexually suggestive lyrics.[25] MTV would broadcast the video, featuring celebrity make-up artist Kathy Jeung in a basque and suspenders, only during the late night hours.[25] Michael argued that the act was beautiful if the sex was monogamous. Michael even recorded a brief prologue for the video in which he said: "This song is not about casual sex."[26] One of the racier scenes involved Michael writing the words "explore monogamy" on his partner's back in lipstick.[27] Some radio stations played a toned-down version of the song, "I Want Your Love," which was mainly the word "love" replacing "sex."[28] When the tune reached the US charts, American Top 40 host Casey Kasem refused to say the song's title, referring to it only as "the new single by George Michael."[28] In the US, the song was also sometimes listed as "I Want Your Sex (from 'Beverly Hills Cop II')," since the song was featured on the soundtrack of the movie.[29]

Despite censorship and radio play problems, "I Want Your Sex" reached No.2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart[30] and at No.3 in Britain.[31]

The second single, "Faith", was released during October 1987, just a few weeks before the album. "Faith" would become one of his most popular songs. The song hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and maintained that position for four consecutive weeks.[32] It also reached no.2 in the UK singles chart.[31] The famous video provided some definitive images of the 1980s music industry in the process—Michael in shades, leather jacket, cowboy boots, and Levi's jeans, playing a guitar near a classic-design jukebox.[33] On 30 October, Faith was released in the UK and in several markets worldwide.[29] In the United States, the album had 51 non-consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of Billboard 200, including 12 weeks at no.1. "Faith" had many successes, four of which ("Faith," "Father Figure", "One More Try", and "Monkey") reached no. 1.[34] Eventually, "Faith" received Diamond certification by the RIAA for sales of 10 million copies in the US.[35] To date, global sales of Faith are more than 25 million units.[36]

In 1988, Michael embarked on a world tour.[37] The nightly set list included from the Wham! era "Everything She Wants" and "I'm Your Man", as well as covers of "Lady Marmalade" or "Play That Funky Music". In Los Angeles, California, Michael was joined on stage by Aretha Franklin for "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". It was the second highest grossing event of 1988, earning $17.7 million.[38] According to Michael in his film, A Different Story, success did not make him happy and he started to think there was something wrong in being an idol for millions of teenage girls. The whole Faith process (promotion, videos, tour, awards) left him exhausted, lonely and frustrated, and far from his friends and family.[39] In 1990, he told his record company Sony that, for his second album, he did not want to do promotions like the one for Faith.[29]

1990–1992: Listen Without Prejudice

Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was released in September 1990. For this album, Michael tried to create a new reputation as a serious-minded artist; the title is an indication of his desire to be taken more seriously as a songwriter.[40] Michael refused to make any kind of promotion for this album, including no music videos for the singles released.[29] The first single, "Praying for Time", was released in August 1990. It concerned social ills and injustice; the song was an instant success, reaching No. 6 in the UK and No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, despite the absence of a video.[32] A video was released shortly thereafter, consisting of the lyrics on a dark background. Michael did not appear in this video or any subsequent videos for the album.[40]

The second single "Waiting for That Day" was an acoustic-heavy single, released as an immediate follow-up to "Praying For Time". It reached No. 27 in the US[32] and No. 23 in the UK[31] in October 1990. The album was released in Europe on 3 September 1990 (and one week later in the United States). It reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart[31] and peaked at No. 2 on the U.S Billboard 200.[32] It spent a total of 88 weeks on the UK album charts and was certified 4 times Platinum by the BPI.[41] The album produced 5 UK singles, which were released quickly, within an at eight-month period: "Praying For Time", "Waiting For That Day", "Freedom! '90", "Heal the Pain", and "Cowboys and Angels" (the latter being his only single not to chart in the UK top 40).[31]

"Freedom '90" was the second of only two of its singles to be supported by a music video (the other being the Michael-less "Praying for Time").[42] The song alludes to his struggles with his artistic identity, and prophesied his efforts shortly thereafter to end his recording contract with Sony Music. As if to prove the song's sentiment, Michael refused to appear in the video (directed by David Fincher), and instead recruited supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, Tyra Banks, and Cindy Crawford to appear in and lip sync in his stead.[42] It also featured the reduction of his sex symbol status.[43] It had contrasting fortunes on each side of the Atlantic—a No.8 success on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US,[32] but only No.28 on the UK singles chart.[31] "Mother's Pride" gained significant radio play in the United States during the first Persian Gulf War during 1991, often with radio stations mixing in callers' tributes to soldiers with the music.[44] It reached No.46 on Billboard Hot 100 with only airplay.[32] In the end, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 sold approximately 8 million copies.[45]

In 1991, George Michael embarked on the "Cover to Cover Tour" in Japan, England, the US, and Brazil, where he performed at the "Rock in Rio" event.[46] In the audience in Rio, he saw and later met Anselmo Feleppa, the man who would become his partner.[44] The tour was not a proper promotion for Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Rather, it was more about Michael singing his favourite cover songs.[46] Among his favourites was "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," a 1974 song by Elton John; Michael and John had performed the song together at the Live Aid concert in 1985, and again for Michael's concert at London's Wembley Arena on 25 March 1991, where the duet was recorded. The single was released at the end of 1991 and became a success on both sides of the Atlantic.[47]

In the meantime, the expected follow-up album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2, was scrapped due to Michael's lawsuit with Sony.[48] Among Michael's complaints was that Sony had not completely supported the release of his second album, resulting in its poor performance in the US as compared to Faith. Sony responded that Michael's refusal to appear in promotional videos had caused the bad response.[49] Michael ended the idea for Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2 and donated three songs to the charity project Red Hot + Dance, for the Red Hot Organization which raised money for AIDS awareness,[50] while a fourth track "Crazyman Dance" was the B-side of 1992's "Too Funky". Michael donated the royalties from "Too Funky" to the same cause.[51] The song did not appear on any George Michael studio album, although later it was included on his solo collections Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael in 1998 and Twenty Five in 2006. The video featured Michael (sporadically) as a director filming supermodels Linda Evangelista, Beverly Peele, Estelle Lefébure and Nadja Auermann at a fashion show.[52] "Too Funky" was a success, reaching number 4 in the UK singles chart[31] and number 10 in the US Billboard Hot 100.[32]

1993: Five Live

George Michael performed at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on 20 April 1992 at London's Wembley Stadium.[53] The concert was a tribute to the life of the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, with some proceeds going to AIDS research.[54] Michael performed "'39" and "Somebody to Love". The performance of the latter was released on the "Five Live" EP.

Five Live, released in 1993 for Parlophone in the UK and Hollywood Records in the US, features five—and in some countries, six—tracks performed by George Michael, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield."Somebody to Love" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives" were recorded at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. "Killer", "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", and "Calling You" were all live performances recorded during his "Cover to Cover Tour" from 1991. Michael's performances of "Somebody to Love" was hailed as "one of best performances of the tribute concert".[55][56] The idea of having George Michael take over as full-time lead singer of Queen was even given serious consideration.[57]

All proceeds from the sale of the EP benefited the Mercury Phoenix Trust.[58] Sales of the EP were very strong through Europe, where it debuted at number 1 in the UK and several European countries.[31] Chart success in the United States was less spectacular, where it peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 ("Somebody to Love" reached No.30 on the US Billboard Hot 100).[32]

1994–1997: Older

During November 1994, after a long period of seclusion, George Michael appeared at the first MTV Europe Music Awards show, where he gave a touching performance of a brand-new song, "Jesus to a Child".[59] The song was a melancholy tribute to his lover, Anselmo Feleppa, who had died in March 1993.[60]

The song was Michael's first self-penned success in his homeland in almost four years; it entered the UK singles chart at No. 1[31] and No. 7 on Billboard in the same month of release.[32] It was also Michael's longest UK Top 40 single, at almost seven minutes long. The exact identity of the song's subject—and the nature of Michael's relationship with Feleppa—was shrouded in innuendo and speculation, as Michael had not confirmed he was homosexual and did not do so until 1998. The video for "Jesus to a Child" was a picture of images recalling loss, pain and suffering. Michael consistently dedicates the song to Feleppa before performing it live.[61]

The second single, released in April 1996, was "Fastlove", an energetic tune about wanting gratification and fulfilment without commitment. The song was somewhat unusual for a popular song, in that it did not have a defined chorus and that the single version was nearly five minutes long. "Fastlove" was supported by a futuristic virtual reality-related video. It scored No. 1 in the UK singles chart, spending three weeks at the top spot.[31] In the US, "Fastlove" peaked at No. 8, his most recent single to reach the top 10 on the US charts.[32] Following "Fastlove", Michael finally released Older, his first studio album in six years and only the third in his ten year solo career. The album's US and Canada release was particularly notable as it was the first album released by David Geffen's (now-defunct) DreamWorks Records.[62] Older was particularly notable for the release of its six singles. Each of them reached the UK Top 3, a record for the most singles in the British Top 3 released from a single album.[63] At the time of release of the album's fifth single, "Star People '97", chart specialist James Masterton noted George Michael's success on the singles charts, writing: "George Michael nonetheless makes an impressive Top 3 entry with this single. The Older album has now proved itself to be far and away his most commercially successful recording ever. Five singles now lifted and every single one has been a Top 3 hit. Compare this with the two Top 3 hits produced by Faith and Listen Without Prejudice's scant total of one Top Tenner and one single which missed the Top 40 altogether. This sustained single success has, of course, been achieved with a little help from marketing tricks such as remixes – or in this case a new recording of the album track which gives it a much-needed transformation into a deserved commercial smash."[64]

In 1996, Michael was voted 'Best British Male', at the MTV Europe Music Awards[65] and the Brit Awards;[66] and at The Ivor Novello Awards, he was awarded the prestigious title of 'Songwriter of The Year' for the third time.[13] Michael performed a concert at Three Mills Studios, London, for MTV Unplugged.[67] It was his first long performance in years, and in the audience was Michael's mother. The next year, she died of cancer.[68]

1998: Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael

Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael was Michael's first solo greatest hits collection released in 1998. The collection of 28 songs (29 songs are included on the European and Australian release) are separated into two halves, with each containing a particular theme and mood. The first CD, titled "For the Heart," predominantly contains Michael's successful ballads, while the second CD, "For the Feet", consists mainly of his popular dance tunes.[69] It was released through Sony Music Entertainment as a condition of severing contractual ties with the label.[70]

The album is notable for containing a large number of compilation tracks and duets that had not previously appeared on his albums, including his duet with Aretha Franklin, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"; "Desafinado", a duet in Portuguese with Brazilian legendary singer Astrud Gilberto; and the Elton John duet "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me".

Ladies & Gentlemen was an instant success, peaking at number one on the UK Album Chart for 8 weeks.[31] It has spent over 200 weeks in the UK Charts, and it is the 38 best-selling album of all time in the UK.[71] It is certified 7 times platinum in the United Kingdom and Multi-Platinum in the United States, and it's George Michael's most commercially successful album in his homeland having sold more than 2.8 million copies.[41] To date, the album has reached worldwide sales of approximately 15 million copies.[72]

The first single of the album, "Outside" was a humorous song about his arrest for soliciting a policeman in a public restroom. "As", his duet with Mary J. Blige, was released as the second single in many territories around the world. Both singles reached the top 5 in the UK Singles Chart.[31]

1999: Songs from the Last Century

Songs from the Last Century is a studio album of cover tracks. It was released in 1999 and was the final George Michael album to be released through Virgin Records. To date, the album has peaked the lowest of his solo effort. The album debuted at number 157 on the American Billboard Charts, which was also the album's peak positions.[32] It was also his lowest charting album in the UK, becoming his only solo effort not to reach number 1. It peaked at number 2 in the UK Album Chart.[31] It consists of old standards, plus new interpretations of more recent popular songs such as "Roxanne (song)","The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"; and the Frank Sinatra classic "Where or When". Each of the 11 tracks was co-produced by Phil Ramone and George Michael.[73]

2000–2005: Patience

Michael began working on what would be his fifth studio album, spending two years in the recording studio. His first single "Freeek!", taken from the new album, was successful in Europe going to number one in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Denmark in 2002 and reaching the top 10 in the UK and ther top 5 in Australia.[74] It made 22 charts around the world. However, his next single "Shoot the Dog" proved to be highly controversial when released in July 2002. It was highly critical of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in the leadup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[75] It reached number one in Denmark and made the top 5 in most European charts.[76] However, in Britain it peaked at only number 12 in the UK Singles Chart.[31]

On 17 November 2003, George Michael re-signed with Sony Music after a legal battle with the company led to his contract being sold to rival record companies Virgin Records and DreamWorks Records.[70] When Michael's fifth studio album, Patience, was released in 2004, it went straight to number 1 on the UK Albums Chart,[31] and became one of the fastest selling albums in the UK, selling over 200,000 copies in the first week alone.[77] In Australia it reached number 2 on 22 March.[78] It reached the Top 5 on most European charts, and peaked at number 12 in the United States, selling over 500,000 copies to earn a Gold certification from the RIAA.[32] Critically acclaimed, it is considered the album of George Michael's comeback to the spotlight in the new millennium, selling around 7 million copies worldwide and spawning four (of six) new hit singles.[79]

"Amazing", the first single off the album, became a number one hit in Europe.[80] When Michael appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show on 26 May 2004, to promote the album, he performed "Amazing", along with his classic songs "Father Figure" and "Faith".[81] On the show Michael spoke of his arrest, revealing his homosexuality, and his resumption of public performances. He allowed Oprah's crew inside his home outside of London.[82] The second single taken off the album was "Flawless (Go to the City)", It was a dance hit in Europe as well as North America, reaching no.1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and became Michael's last number one single on the United States Dance chart.[31] In November, Sony released another single – "Round Here". It was the least successful single taken from Patience when it stalled the UK charts at no. 32.[31] In 2005, "John and Elvis Are Dead" was released as the final single from the album; it was released as a download single and was therefore unable to chart in the United Kingdom.[83]

George Michael announced that Patience will be the last record on sale to the public.[84] He told BBC Radio 1 on 10 March 2004 that future music that he puts out will be available for download, with fans encouraged to make a donation to charity.[85]

2005–2008: Twenty Five and concert tours

Twenty Five was George Michael's second greatest hits album, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his music career.[86] Released in November 2006 by Sony BMG, it debuted at no.1 in the UK.[87]

The album contains songs chiefly from George Michael's solo career but also from his earlier days in Wham! It comes in two formats: two CDs or a limited edition three-CD set. The 2-CD set contained 26 tracks, including four recorded with Wham! and three new songs: "An Easier Affair"; "This Is Not Real Love" (a duet with Mutya Buena, formerly of Sugababes, which peaked at No.15 in the UK Charts); and a new version of "Heal the Pain" recorded with Paul McCartney. The limited edition three-CD version contains an additional 14 lesser known tracks, including one from Wham! and another completely new song, "Understand".[88]

Twenty Five was released in North America on 1 April 2008 as a 29-song, two-CD set featuring several new songs (including duets with Paul McCartney and Mary J. Blige and a song from the short-lived TV series Eli Stone)[89] in addition to many of Michael's successful songs from both his solo and Wham! career. To commemorate the Twenty Five album, George Michael toured North America for the first time in 17 years, playing large venues in major cities including New York, Los Angeles, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Chicago and Dallas.[90]

The DVD version of Twenty Five contains 40 videos on two discs, including seven with Wham!.[91]

During the 2005 Live 8 concert, Michael joined Paul McCartney on stage, harmonising on The Beatles classic "Drive My Car". Michael was one of several remixers commissioned in 1990 to work on dance mixes for Bananarama's "Tripping on Your Love". Bananarama covered "Careless Whisper" for their Exotica album in 2001, and the track was also released as a single in France.

George Michael during a concert in Munich in 2006

In 2006, Michael started his first tour in 15 years, 25 Live. The tour began in Barcelona, Spain, on 23 September and finished in December at Wembley Arena in England. According to his website, the 80-show tour was seen by 1.3 million fans. On 12 May 2007 in Coimbra, Portugal, he began the European "25 Live Stadium Tour 2007", including London and Athens, and ending on 4 August 2007 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. There were 29 tour dates (as of 21 April 2007) across Europe. On 9 June 2007 Michael became the first artist to perform live at the newly renovated Wembley Stadium in London, where he was later fined £130,000 for overrunning the programme for 13 minutes.

On 25 March 2008 a third part of the 25 Live Tour was announced for North America. This part included 21 dates in the United States and Canada. This was Michael's first tour of North America in 17 years. Following news of Michael's North American tour, Twenty Five was released in North America on 1 April 2008 as a 29-song, 2-CD set featuring several new songs (including duets with Paul McCartney and Mary J. Blige and a song from the short-lived TV series, Eli Stone) in addition to many of Michael's successful songs from both his solo and Wham! career. In addition, a companion 2-disc DVD of 40 videos was also made available.

Michael made his American acting debut by playing a guardian angel to Jonny Lee Miller's character on Eli Stone, a TV series that was broadcast in the United States. In addition to performing on the show as himself and as "visions", each episode of the show's first season was named after a song of his. Michael appeared on the 2008 finale show of American Idol on 21 May singing "Praying for Time". When asked what he thought Simon will say of his performance, he replied "I think he'll probably tell me I shouldn't have done a George Michael song. He's told plenty of people that in the past, so I think that'd be quite funny."[92][93][94]

On 1 December, Michael played a last concert in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, as part of the 37th National Day Celebrations.

2008–present: Latest projects

George Michael during a concert in Nice in 2011.

On 25 December 2008, Michael released a new track "December Song" on his website for free. It was hoped that fans who download the song would donate money to charity. Though the song is not available any more on his website, it remains available on file sharing networks[95] and on 29 October 2009 the BBC said that George Michael was to join the race for the UK Christmas number one as a remastered version of "December Song" would go on sale on 13 December. The popularity of the single was boosted by a promotional appearance that Michael made on The X Factor, where he performed the song with David Austin playing piano.

At the end of 2009, Michael announced, after months of speculation, that he would be performing shows in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, his first concerts in Australia since 1988.[96] On 20 February 2010, Michael performed his first show in Perth at the Burswood dome to an audience of 15,000.[97]

On 5 March 2010, Michael confirmed that he would be a guest performer at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras After Party, where he performed at 1 am, followed by Kelly Rowland at 3 am.[98]

On 2 March 2011 Michael announced the release of his cover version of New Order's 1987 hit "True Faith" in aid of the charity Comic Relief.[99] Michael released a cover of Stevie Wonder's 1972 song, "You and I" on 15 April 2011, as an MP3 gift to Prince William and Catherine Middleton on the occasion of their wedding on 29 April 2011.

Although the MP3 was released for free download,[100] Michael appealed that those who do download the special track that make a contribution to "The Prince William & Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund".[101]

On 11 May 2011, the Symphonica Tour was announced. Only European dates were released. The first show on the tour was performed at the Prague State Opera House on 22 August.[102]

In October 2011, Michael was announced as one of the final nominees for the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.[103]

Personal life


In a 2007 interview, Michael admitted that he had hidden the fact he was gay because of worries over what effect it might have on his mother.[104]


Michael established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, whom he had met at the 1991 concert Rock in Rio. Feleppa died of a brain haemorrhage in 1993.[105] Michael's single "Jesus to a Child" is a tribute to Feleppa (he consistently dedicates it to him before performing it live), as is his 1996 album Older.[105]

In 1996, Michael entered into a long-term relationship with businessman, Kenny Goss. Goss opened the Goss Gallery in May 2005 in Dallas, which shows contemporary art and works from their private collection, which includes many artworks by YBAs such as Sarah Lucas. They had homes in London and Dallas.[106] In late November 2005, it was reported that Michael and Goss would register their relationship as a civil partnership in the UK,[107] but because of negative publicity and his upcoming tour, they postponed it to a later date.[108][109] On 22 August 2011, the opening night of his Symphonica world tour, Michael announced that he and his long time partner, Kenny, had split two years before.[110] Goss was present at Michael's British sentencing for driving under the influence of marijuana on 14 September 2010.[111]

Anonymous sex

Questions of Michael's sexual orientation persisted in public until 7 April 1998, when he was arrested for "engaging in a lewd act" in a public toilet in a park in Beverly Hills, California. He was arrested by an undercover policeman named Marcelo Rodríguez, in a sting operation using so-called "pretty police."

In an MTV interview, Michael stated: "I got followed into the restroom and then this cop—I didn't know it was a cop, obviously—he started playing this game, which I think is called, 'I'll show you mine, you show me yours, and then when you show me yours, I'm going to nick you!"[112]

After pleading "no contest" to the charge, Michael was fined US$810 and sentenced to 80 hours of community service. Soon afterwards, Michael made a video for his single "Outside" which was obviously based on the public toilet incident and which featured men dressed as policemen kissing. Rodríguez claimed that this video "mocked" him, and that Michael had slandered him in interviews. In 1999, he brought a US$10 million court case in California against the singer. The court dismissed the case, but an Appellate court reinstated the case on 3 December 2002.[113] The court then ruled Rodríguez, as a public official, could not legally recover damages for emotional distress.[114]

After the incident, Michael became explicit about his sexuality and his relationship with Kenny Goss, a former cheerleader coach[115] and sportswear executive from Dallas,[116] and his partner beginning in June 1996.

On 23 July 2006. Michael was again accused of engaging in anonymous public sex, this time at London's Hampstead Heath.[117] The anonymous partner was later discovered to be 58-year-old Norman Kirtland,[118] an unemployed van driver.[119] Despite stating that he intended to sue both the News of the World tabloid who photographed the incident and Norman Kirtland for slander, Michael stated that he cruises for anonymous sex[120] and that this was not an issue in his relationship with partner Kenny Goss.[121]


On 26 February 2006, Michael was arrested for possession of Class C drugs, an incident that he described as "my own stupid fault, as usual." He was cautioned by the police and released.[122]

Michael was arrested in Cricklewood, North-West London, after motorists reported a car obstructing the road at traffic lights. He pleaded guilty on 8 May 2007 to driving while unfit through drugs.[123] He was banned from driving for two years, and sentenced to community service.

During September 2007, on Desert Island Discs, he said that his cannabis use was a problem; he wished he could smoke less of it and was constantly trying to do so.[124]

On 19 September 2008, Michael was arrested in a public toilet in the Hampstead Heath area of London for possession of Class A and C drugs. He was taken to the police station and cautioned for controlled substance possession.[125]

On 5 December 2009, in an interview with The Guardian, Michael explains he had cut back on cannabis and now smokes only 'seven or eight' spliffs per day instead of the 25 he used to smoke.[126]

In the early hours of Sunday 4 July 2010 Michael was returning from the Gay Pride parade. The singer was spotted on CCTV driving into the front of a Snappy Snaps store in Hampstead, North London and was arrested on suspicion of being unfit to drive after reports that a car had crashed into a building.[127][128] On 12 August, London's Metropolitan Police said he was "charged with possession of cannabis and with driving while unfit through drink or drugs".[129] Michael had also been taking the prescription medication Amitriptyline.[130][131]

On 24 August 2010 the singer pleaded guilty at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court in London after admitting driving under the influence of drugs[132] and on 14 September 2010 at the same court, was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, a fine, and a five year ban from driving.[133][134] Michael was released from Highpoint Prison in Suffolk on 11 October 2010, after serving four weeks.[135]

It was reported that Michael had also been taking the prescription medication, Amitriptyline,[136][137] some of the side effects of which are listed on Medline[138] include tiredness, drowsiness, blurred vision, fainting, dizziness and hallucinating.


Michael wrote "Shoot the Dog", a song critical about the friendly relationship between the American and British governments and their involvement in the Iraq War.[citation needed]

During 2000, Michael joined Melissa Etheridge, Garth Brooks, Queen Latifah, the Pet Shop Boys, and k.d. lang, to perform in Washington, D.C. as part of 'Equality Rocks' – a concert to benefit the Human Rights Campaign.[139]

During 2007, he sent the £1.45 million piano that John Lennon used to write "Imagine" around the United States on a "peace tour," having it on display at places where violence had taken place, such as Dallas' Dealey Plaza, where US President John. F. Kennedy was shot.[1]

He devoted his concert in Sofia, Bulgaria from his "Twenty Five Tour" to the Bulgarian nurses prosecuted in the HIV trial in Libya.[140]

On 17 June 2008, Michael said he was thrilled by California's legalisation of same-sex marriage, calling the move "way overdue."[141]


During 1984, he sang as part of Band Aid on the charity song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for famine relief in Ethiopia. This single scored No.1 on the UK music charts over Christmas 1984, holding Michael's own song, "Last Christmas" by Wham!, at #2. Michael donated the royalties from "Last Christmas" to Band Aid and subsequently sang with Elton John at Live Aid (the Band Aid charity concert) in 1985.

In 2003 he paired up with Ronan Keating on the British version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and won £32,000, after having their original £64,000 winnings halved after missing the £125,000 question.

The proceeds from the single "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" were divided among 10 different charities for children, AIDS and education.

Michael is supporting a campaign to help raise US$32 million (GBP15 million) for terminally ill children.


According to reports, between the years 2006 and 2008, Michael earned £48.5 million ($97 million)[142] from the 25 Live tour alone, as well as earning millions more for private concerts that he periodically does, such as for Billionaire Vladimir Potanin and super rich fashion shop owner Sir Philip Green.[142] According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, George Michael is worth £90 million in currency alone.[143]


In 1991 Michael released an autobiography titled "Bare" through Penguin Books, which he co-wrote with writer Tony Parsons. The over 200 page book covers various aspects of his life, including details of his relationship with a former girlfriend.[144] On 16 January 2008, Michael signed a contract with HarperCollins for an autobiography which he is to write "entirely himself".[145]


Studio albums



See also


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