George Michael

George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (Greek: Γεώργιος Κυριάκος Παναγιώτου); on 25 June 1963) is an English musician, singer-songwriter and record producer who rose to fame in the 1980s when he formed the pop duo Wham! along 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.

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

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.

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

Early life

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

He began his involvement in the music business 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).

Michael first found success after forming the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The band’s first album Fantastic scored 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, scoring #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 also became Michael’s first solo effort as a single.

Michael also 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 the 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 an exclusive foray into popular journalism, in 1985 Michael also interviewed David Cassidy for David Litchfield’s legendary Ritz Newspaper.

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.

With the success of Michael’s solo singles, “Careless Whisper” (1984) and “A Different Corner” (1986), rumours of an impending termination 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 Stadiumthat 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 November 1986.

Solo career

George Michael desired to create music for a more sophisticated audience than the duo’s primarily teenage fanbase. 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.

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 Awardin 1988 for Best R&B Performance – Duo or Group with Vocal for the song.

Relationships

Michael established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, whom he had met at the 1991 concert Rock in Rio. Feleppa died of a brain hemorrhage in 1993. 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.

Since 1996, Michael had been in 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 collection which includes many artworks by YBAs such as Sarah Lucas. They have homes in London and Dallas. In late November 2005, it was reported that Michael and Goss would register their relationship as a civil partnership in the UK, but owing to negative publicity and his upcoming tour, they postponed it to a later date.There are reports of their relationship secretly ending in December 2008, though this has been denied by Michael. Goss was present at Michael’s British sentencing for driving under the influence of marijuana on 14 September 2010.

Charity

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 #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 (this 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.

Assets

According to reports, with the 25 Live tour alone in 2 years between 2006 and 2008 he is said to have earned £48.5 million ($97 million) as well as earning millions more for private concerts he does periodically such as for Billionaire Vladimir Potanin and super rich fashion shop owner Sir Philip Green. According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2009 George Michael is worth £90 million in currency alone.

Memoirs

In 1991 George 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. On 16 January 2008, Michael signed a contract with HarperCollinsfor an autobiography which he is to write “entirely himself”.

George Michael
Background information
Birth name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou
Born 25 June 1963 (age 47)
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 georgemichael.com
Notable instruments
Piano
John Lennon model “Z” Steinway

George Michael lyrics

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