Singer, Musician, Entertainer, Songwriter, Producer, Philanthropist. George Michael started his career as part of the pop duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley. Later he would embark on an extremely successful solo career which would last nearly thirty years. He was the youngest of three children and became obsessed with music early in his childhood when his mother gave him a few 45 rpm records and an old gramophone. His love of music saw him busking on the London Underground with friend, David Mortimer. He also worked as a DJ at the Bel Air restaurant near Bushey. Songwriting was a natural next step for him and he penned "Careless Whisper" at the age of 17 when he was on his way to his Bel Air job. It was around this time that he and Ridgeley became more serious about their music and they, along with friends, David Mortimer, Andrew Leaver and Paul Ridgeley, formed a ska band called "The Executive". The band had some local success but it wasn't long before they decided to go their separate ways. Michael and Ridgeley would continue to write music in their spare time and would eventually record a demo tape at Ridgeley's house, which included "Wham Rap!," "Club Tropicana," "Come On" and a sampling of "Careless Whisper." They took their demo tape to several music publishers and were quickly turned down. Ridgeley then decided to give the tape to his neighbor, Mark Dean, who had some success with CBS, the sponsors of his new label, Innervision. Wham! were signed with Innervision in March 1982. Their big break would come when they appeared on the popular British program, Top of the Pops, in November. Wham! became one of the most commercially successful pop acts of the early to mid-1980s, selling more than 30 million records worldwide. They had such hits as, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Freedom," "Everything She Wants", "I'm Your Man", "The Edge of Heaven", "Last Christmas" and of course, "Careless Whisper." In 1985 Wham! became the first Western pop group to tour China. They also received a Brit Award for British Group and Careless Whisper was Billboard Year-End Number One Single. That same year Michael and Ridgeley appeared at Live Aid, with Michael taking center stage to sing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Elton John accompanied him on the piano and Ridgeley joined the backing vocalists for the performance. He would also lend his voice to a recording for David Cassidy as well as performing on two singles for Elton John. He won the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year for the first time. Many of the songs he had been writing were not the typical Wham! sound. The announcement came that Wham! would officially breakup and on June 28, 1986, at London's Wembley Stadium, Wham! gave their final concert with 72,000 people in attendance. Special guests, like Elton John and Simon Le Bon, also performed. George Michael would begin his solo career by recording a duet with one of his favorite artist, Aretha Franklin. Their duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" marked his fourth number-one single in the United States, including his singles with Wham! He would later release his first solo album, "Faith." "Faith" topped the United Kingdom Charts and in the United States, the album had 51 non-consecutive weeks in the top 10 of Billboard 200, including 12 weeks at No. 1. and it was the first album by a white solo artist to hit number one on the United States Rhythm and Blues Albums. "Faith" produced six top-five Billboard Hot 100 hits, four of which reached number one; making him the only British male solo artist to have four number one hits from one album on the record chart. The album earned him numerous accolades. At the 1989 Grammy Awards he won Album of the Year. Additionally, he won three awards at the 1989 American Music Awards; they include: Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist and Favorite Soul/ Rhythm and Blues Album. "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" was the follow-up album to "Faith" and was released in 1990. It produced five singles, "Praying for Time," "Waiting for that Day," "Freedom! '90," "Heal the Pain" and "Cowboys and Angels." In the United Kingdom the album spent a total of 88 weeks in the album charts. It was certified platinum four times by the BPI on January 2, 1992. Sales in the United States were not as good. He and Sony Music Entertainment (United Kingdom) Ltd. had some differences of opinion on how to promote the album in the United States which led him to file suit against Sony. Michael lost the case. The intended album, "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2" was never realized due to the lawsuit with Sony. Instead, he donated three songs to Red Hot + Dance which raised money for AIDS awareness. In 1992 he performed at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium, with all proceeds going to AIDS research. He performed Queen hits "39," "These are the Days of our Lives" and he gave an outstanding rendition of "Somebody to Love." It has been said his performance at this concert was among the best performances of the night. He continued to have success in Europe with his third album "Older" and such hits as "Fastlove" and "Jesus to a Child." In 1996 he was voted Best British Male at the MTV Europe Music Awards and the Brit Awards. He was also awarded the British Academy's Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year for the third time. His fourth album, "Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael" reached No. 1 on the United Kingdom Album Charts and remained there for eight weeks. It spent over 200 weeks on the United Kingdom charts altogether (1998-2017), and it was the 38th best-selling album of all time in that country. In all, George Michael has sold over 115 million records worldwide. He has performed with such artists as Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Tony Bennett, Paul Young and Paul McCartney. He performed at sell-out concerts all over the world and he received numerous accolades for his contributions to the music industry. In addition to the gift he has given the world with his music, he donated royalties from several singles to various causes and performed for countless charity concerts. Following his death, many charities revealed that he had been supporting them for many years and had given them "millions" of dollars. He did so anonymously. His untimely death shocked the world. It was determined that he died of fatty liver and dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis. He was laid to rest in a private ceremony on March 29, 2017, in Highgate Cemetery, next to his mother.
Bio by: GenealogyByBrenda