In the early hours of Christmas morning, George Michael died at his home in Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England. According to his then-partner, Fadi Fawaz, he was found dead lying in bed, but he didn’t call 999 immediately. Fadi said that George was cold and blue and that he had been watching for an hour.
George Michael was an English singer, songwriter, and record producer. He was a global superstar, adored worldwide, but died alone in his home at the age of 53 on December 25, 2016.
Upon hearing of George’s death, his former Wham! music partner, Andrew Ridgeley paid his respects on Twitter, saying, “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog.” Andrew had given George Michael the nickname “Yog” in their childhood years.
Suspicions Regarding George Michael’s Death
Geoge Michael’s death at such a young age of 53, as well as his past troubles with drinking and substance abuse sparked speculation over his cause of death.
George Michael’s boyfriend, Fadi Fawaz, 43, was questioned by police officers for five hours and was forced to deny media reports that he was under suspicion over the singer’s death.
His partner, Fadi, said he had been out and slept in his car on Christmas Eve. Even if they were having a disagreement, wasn’t the home large enough for him to stay in the house and keep his distance?
Fadi’s Tweets were odd and suspicious. A series of tweets sent out from Fadi Fawaz’s Twitter account on Sunday morning claimed death was something Michael was seeking. Fawaz revealed he had discovered the 53-year-old singer’s dead body in his home.
“The only thing George wanted is to DIE,” one tweet said. “He tried numbers (sic) of time to kill himself many times… and finally he managed…”
On Boxing Day, December 26, a tweet on the account read: “It’s a Xmas I will never forget finding your partner dead peacefully in bed first thing in the morning..I will never stop missing you.”
“We loved each other very much and we were together almost 24 hours a day…” Fawaz added on Sunday. “I hate you 2016 from the bottom of my heart.”
However, Fawaz—a celebrity hairstylist with whom the late star was romantically involved—told the Mirror that his account was hacked, and he had never sent the tweets.
George Michael’s cousin/childhood friend spoke out about the growing rift between Michael’s family and his boyfriend Fadi Fawaz and the questions the family has surrounding the singer’s untimely death. Georgiou disputed Fawaz’s claim that he and Michael were “together 24 hours a day” and questions his story about finding him in his bed on Christmas Day. “They never lived together,” Georgiou wrote on Facebook. “[Fadi] lived at one of Yogs’ [a family nickname for George] in Regent Park. And even if they were, WHY were they not together on Christmas Eve? and WHY did he sleep in the car?
“Too many questions have come up,” he continued.
“Every day I get more angry at the lies I am reading. I pray that this nobody doesn’t earn a penny from Yog’s death—any money he is offered for his so-called story should go straight to one of Yog’s charities which now you all know how many,” Georgiou said. “He never took any credit—he was in every word the peoples’ hero apart, from being the one of biggest talents this country has ever produced. A true gentleman that lost his way. If only there were not so many YES people around him, he would be alive today.
“One thing is for sure this was not an act of suicide,” Georgiou continued. “If I was around this would never [have] happened and I have to live with that the rest of my life… I have to pray that the police come to the conclusion I have and justice will be served.”
The family was devastated by his passing and expressed no desire to comment in relation to any such speculation, whether current or in the future.”
What was George Michael’s health status leading up to his death? Thames Valley Police initially said his death was unexplained but not suspicious, and an initial post-mortem examination was inconclusive. Months later, questions remained as to the cause of death.
When the final post-mortem report was issued, it revealed that George Michael’s Cause of Death was a heart-related condition: Dilated Cardiomyopathy with Myocarditis and Fatty Liver. Death certificate March 9, 2017. No toxicology report was revealed. Was this an indication of his lifestyle choices in the last few years?
The iconic singer was survived by his father and two sisters, one of whom passed away in 2019, 3 years after her brother died. Michael’s will left most of his £97 million estate to his sisters, father, and friends. It did not include bequests to either his partner, Fadi Fawaz, or to his former partner, Kenny Goss.
“My music will last, and the rubbish will be gone.” ~George Michael
George Michael aimed to have four #1 Hits in one year. When he wrote and composed Last Christmas, he truly believed he had accomplished his goal. The video was produced in Switzerland. The song began in 1983 while George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were visiting George’s parents. George wrote it in his childhood bedroom and played the introduction and chorus melody to Andrew. Ridgeley later called it “a moment of wonder.”
Wham! Last Christmas (YouTube Video)—George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley
“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special.” ~George Michael
Last Christmas was recorded in August 1984 at Advision Studios in London. George Michael wrote, performed, produced and played every single instrument on the track.
Planning a Christmas single meant that a battle for the coveted Christmas #1 spot in Britain was being set.
“Christmas was a big deal for Yog (Andrew’s nickname for Michael) always. Last Christmas had to convey all of that sense of Christmas as we perceived it…a fantasy. Spirits were really high as you could imagine. It was a remarkable video shoot. We knew we had a #1 Hit on our hands. It was released on December 3, 1984, via CBS Records internationally. It spent 5 consecutive weeks at #2 in the U.K. Singles Chart.
Much to George Michael’s disappointment, it was held off the top spot by Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (on which George also performed). Wham! donated all of their “Last Christmas/Everything She Wants” Royalties to the Ethiopian famine.
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Wham! George Michael and Me: A Memoir by Andrew Ridgeley
Andrew Ridgeley tells the inside story of Wham!, his lifelong friendship with George Michael, and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early ’80s.
In 1975, Andrew took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off, and their boyhood escapades at Bushy Meads School built a bond that was never broken. The duo found themselves riding an astonishing roller coaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records and were treated like superstars, but they stayed true to their friendship and, ultimately, to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end. And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
Andrew’s memoir covers those years in remarkable detail, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good, and the bad. It’s a unique and one-and-only time to remember the Wham! era.
Andrew was one-half of the 1980s’ most successful pop duo. But after Wham! split in 1986, Ridgeley shied away from the limelight, letting best friend George Michael take center stage. Three years after George Michael’s death, Andrew bared all in his memoir Wham! George & Me. He tells us why he wrote it and discusses the circumstances surrounding his former bandmate’s death.
George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley Form Wham!
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley met as pre-teens attending Bushey Meads School in Hertfordshire, England. Becoming fast friends, the two played in a band named the Executive before leaving to form their own group. Inspired by American dance and R&B, the duo decided to call themselves Wham! because they believed it represented their sunny, kinetic chemistry.
Andrew Ridgeley explained that the name originated from a need for “something that captured the essence of what set us apart—our energy and our friendship—and then it came to us: Wham! Wham! was snappy, immediate, fun and boisterous too.” British graphic design studio Stylorouge was credited with adding the exclamation mark to the duo’s name.
The duo worked persistently to get a foot in the door with recording executives. Andrew Ridgeley would frequently run into Mark Dean from Innervision Records at The Three Crowns in Hertfordshire, and hand him their demo tape.
In February 1982, Mark Dean met with the duo and offered them a recording deal. “I’m going to offer Wham! a deal with my new label Innervision,” Dean said. “It’s not a huge thing, I’m taking a punt. I’d like you to have a crack at recording a single or two and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Initially the pair wrote songs such as “Wham Rap (Enjoy What You Do)” and “Club Tropicana” together, but part way through the recording of their debut album Fantastic, the pair agreed that George Michael was the stronger songwriter, and would take creative control. Still teenagers, they promoted themselves as youngsters, proud to live a carefree life without work or commitment. This was reflected in their earliest singles.
The debut record to be released was “Wham Rap!” in June 1982. In September 1982, “Young Guns (Go for It)” was issued. Initially, it also stalled outside the U.K. top 40 but they got lucky when the BBC program Top of the Pops scheduled them after another act unexpectedly pulled out of the show.
By the end of 1983, Wham! was competing against pop rivals Culture Club and Duran Duran as one of Britain’s biggest pop acts. Their debut album Fantastic spent two weeks at No. 1 on the U.K. album charts in 1983, but the album achieved only modest success in the U.S.
After an acrimonious split with Innervision, Wham! signed with Epic Records—in America, they signed with Columbia, another CBS-run imprint—paving the way for a massive worldwide push for their second album, Make It Big. It climbed to No. 1 on the album charts and the band set off on an arena tour at the end of 1984.
Wham!’s Switch to Epic Records
Now signed to Epic Records, except in the U.S. and a few other countries on Epic’s sister label Columbia Records, Wham! returned in 1984 with a new album and an updated pop image. These changes helped to propel Wham!’s next single, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, into the top ten of several countries around the world. It became their first U.S. and U.K. No. 1 single, accompanied by a video of the duo with Pepsi and Shirlie, all wearing Katharine Hamnett T-shirts with the slogans “CHOOSE LIFE” and “GO GO”.
Accompanied by a bright, cheerful video where the duo, along with backing vocalists Pepsi and Shirlie, sported shirts proclaiming “Choose Life,” lead single “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” became a #1 hit around the globe in the summer of 1984, sparking a blockbuster year for Wham!
It was the jubilant Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go that turned them into international superstars.
Wham! Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
No matter how much time passes, this will always be my favorite Wham! song.
One day, Andrew left a note for George writing “Please wake me up before you go go.” He later realized he had accidentally wrote a title for a song. Next thing you know… it’s no longer a singer/writer… It’s a singer/writer/producer, said Andrew. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Wham!’s Music Available on Amazon
Wham! Make It Big (1984)
Wham! Wake Me Up Before You Go Go Sweatshirt
Among those number one hits was the ballad “Careless Whisper,” a sultry slow jam that was promoted in some markets as a solo single by George Michael and in other countries as “Wham! Featuring George Michael,” a puzzling choice considering it was one of the few Wham! singles co-written by Andrew Ridgeley. The credit confusion was the first indication that CBS viewed Michael as the true star of Wham!
Careless Whisper (Official Video)
At the end of 1985, the US Billboard charts listed “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” as the #3 and “Careless Whisper” as the #1 song of the year.
People Magazine: George Michael: A Pop Star Life (Single Issue)
With glorious, rarely-seen photos and new interviews with Aretha Franklin, Cindy Crawford, Melissa Etheridge, and remembrances from many other famous friends, this People commemorative edition celebrates the unparalleled life and career of George Michael (1963-2016). From his early years as a teen songwriter with Wham! to his incredible solo success with hits like “Faith” and “Freedom ’90.” A must for fans!
Dangling Cross Earrings
Iconic Friendship: George Michael and Elton John
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me: George Michael & Elton John (Official Music Video)
Insights from George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley
“I never expected to be a teen idol or any sort of thing like that.” ~George Michael
“It took us both by surprise, the madness that was going on around us.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“We had a string of hit singles and we had zero money.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“Andrew and I came off tour and had to go home to mom and dad. It was literally that bad.” ~George Michael
“It was absolutely ludicrous. We received 4% a piece on singles in the U.K. and 2% in the rest of the world. We didn’t get any money on the 12 inches (albums), which was what was selling at the time.” ~George Michael
That’s when the trouble begins. Two 18-year-old boys questioned their contract. Was it fair on the day it was signed? They needed management. A new deal was signed with CBS. George Michael recorded Careless Whisper in Muscle Shoals with Jerry Drexler who had worked with Aretha Franklin. However, George was not pleased with how it sounded. He re-recorded it the way he wanted it to sound. George produced the track solely to his vision.
George Michael liked to write exclusively as part of the recording process, according to Andrew.
“In my private place, which is in the studio, I’m a producer before I’m a singer, sometimes.” ~George Michael
“We could both see that his songwriting was taking him in a direction that was different from mine, but he was my best friend and to be a part of that evolution would be a great thing.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“When I write a melody in my head, something at the back of my neck just knows that I’ve hit it. It’s almost like it was already there but you hadn’t spotted where it was yet. It’s almost like it comes to you fully formed and you just pulled it out of nowhere and the feeling that you have that makes you shiver is that you found it” ~George Michael
“My life was pretty straightforward. I was living in the moment. I never felt that our music defined me in the same way it did for George. His songwriting was becoming the vehicle through which he could draw out the person he wanted to be. I knew exactly who I was.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“George was very sure of himself when it came to making music but he was less certain about certain aspects of his life.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“For many years, my support system was Andrew. Andrew was this kind of idol that I had. He was the first person that I had ever hung around with that was much stronger than me. Almost everything came from Andrew. Andrew changed my life in exactly the way someone needed to change my life if I was gonna be a pop star.” ~George Michael
“Over the years, he transformed into George Michael.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
Winning the Ivor Novello Award
George Michael considered winning the prestigious Ivor Novello awards for songwriting as one of the most special. It was a huge milestone for him. He was then the youngest recipient of The Ivors at the age of 21. He won Songwriter of the Year Award in 1985, 1989, and 1997.
George Michael wrote in the Smash Hits 1986 Yearbook:
“Winning an award really meant a lot to me, because apart from anything else, it was heightened by the fact that we had just got that BPI award, and there was such total resentment of us as a group. And yet sitting at the Ivor Novello awards with a group of songwriters and publishers, it was perfectly obvious that the people in that room wanted me to win it. And that to me was the first real acknowledgment that I’d ever received professionally, the first proper sign from within the industry that what I was doing was actually worthwhile. And that was the reason that I got so emotional.” ~George Michael
Wham!’s Concert in China in April 1985
In 1985, the British band Wham! held two concerts in Beijing Gongti and Yuexiu Mountain in Guangzhou. The tour is considered to have changed the history of mainland pop music and is believed to be the first time that Western pop music was allowed to perform in Chinese mainland after 1949. The Wham! in China: Foreign Skies documentary film chronicles the official and non-governmental exchanges between the Band and the West after their arrival in China, where both Chinese and foreign parties seem to know nothing about each other, but their curiosity, curiosity and passion drive them to perform this bizarre journey together.
Andrew Ridgeley stated, “This is indeed a rare privilege… Our idea was to project fun, exuberance… everyone was committed.” It was a huge success!
Afterward, George Michael said: “It did elevate our status as a global phenomenon but at the same time I had a little voice going ‘What am I going to do?’ I was intelligent enough to know that this was the wrong road if I was looking for happiness that I should not be trying to catch up with Michael Jackson or Madonna, which is exactly what I was intent on doing… I want to be able to develop as a human being but I feel trapped…”
George Michael’s future as a solo artist was dependent on Wham! becoming as successful as the likes of Prince or Elton John.
Live Aid Concert (1985) with Elton John
Live Aid was a multi-venue benefit concert held on July 13, 1985. It was organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise relief funds for the famine in Ethiopia. It was held simultaneously at Wimbley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia.
George Michael had been invited to perform with Elton John. They sang “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”
“I idolized Elton as a child and when I’m with him, I get a little voice from a 9-year-old…I just can’t believe I’m here.” ~George Michael
“Yog suggested that I might do some backing vocals. It was nice to be invited but it was his moment. George was emerging as an artist in his own right. At Live Aid, more than a billion people got to see that for themselves. And then the encore was bonkers because everyone was up on stage. We were rubbing shoulders with David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. It was a surreal experience with these absolute icons in the industry. It was a huge step up, but it was just the beginning.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
Wham! American Tour in 1985
At that point, Wham! had never played in a stadium anywhere. It was a big gamble but it paid off. They became huge stars in America.
“The success was so much more than I had ever dreamed of and so once we criss-crossed the states, the questions were: ‘Where do we go from here?’ ~Andrew Ridgeley
“I think the success in America over the last year, though we worked very hard for it…I think it’s actually been the biggest surprise… that we’ve come across during the 3 years we’ve been in the business, just in terms of… I think that we do need some time to actually sit back and… we’re just going to move on and do something different.” ~George Michael
“In reality, the turning point with Wham! had nothing to do with Wham! The turning point with Wham! was me as I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m a master star, and I’m gay, and the depression was about that. It was just about the way I had boxed myself in, you know… be careful what you wish for.” ~George Michael
“We had achieved everything as that superstar band and we were growing up. It got to a point where I didn’t want any more of it. It had to end at some point. We both knew that.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
Wham!’s Final Concert at Wembley Stadium, London—June 28, 1986
Approximately 72,000 people attended Wham!’s farewell concert, including Elton John and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran. The concert was preceded by the release of their greatest hits, Wham! The Final Audio CD
“By the end of it, I had no doubt that I could become an international solo success.” ~George Michael
Ridgeley also said of the concert, that he had wanted to take the show internationally and that he was disappointed saying “I felt that it was a slight betrayal of the fans who had supported us globally.”
“By the time he stepped out on that stage, the second incarnation was almost complete. Yog has become the artist he was destined to be.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“There was this overwhelming feeling of pride that we had made such an impression in 4 years. To see that an awful lot of people that were there… because Wham! represented that part of their youth to them. Wham! was never gonna be middle-aged or be anything other than that essential and pure representation of us as youths.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“If I was going to go to the place I believed I was going to go, there was o way that we could hang out in the way that we had always done. It was no way. It would’ve been too difficult for Andrew. So, it was a sad day in some ways. It was the end of something.” ~George Michael
“George embraced me and said, ‘I couldn’t done it without you.’ He said everything he needed to say to me. The fact that we’d achieved such huge success together, you know, what our friendship represented…” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“We were going to be separate when we hadn’t been since we were kids.” ~George Michael
“I was happy for my friend. He stood on the cusp of greatness but I didn’t know what being George Michael truly meant.” ~Andrew Ridgeley
“I was on my own and I had no idea how much I was gonna miss that… and I will always remember this journey, absolute youthful and happy, you know.” ~George Michael, Wham!
George Michael was keen to create music targeted at a more sophisticated adult market rather than the duo’s primarily teenage audience, and therefore, he and Ridgeley officially announced the break-up of Wham! in the spring of 1986.
The duo had been together for five years, selling over 28 million records and 15 million singles.
By the end of that year, Wham! had split, leaving Michael on the road to solo superstardom.
Andrew Ridley After Wham!’s Split
Andrew Ridgeley moved to Monaco after Wham!’s break-up and tried his hand at Formula Three Motor Racing. Meeting with little success, Ridgeley moved to Los Angeles to pursue his singing/acting career, the failure of which caused him to return to England in 1990. Regardless, CBS Records, having taken up the option on Wham!’s contract that specified solo albums from Michael and Ridgeley, released a solo effort from Ridgeley, Son of Albert, in 1990. After poor sales, CBS declined the option of a second album.
On June 25, 1988, George Michael’s 25th birthday, George played the third of three dates at Birmingham’s NEC as part of the Faith World Tour. He appeared deeply moved when he was surprised on stage by many members of his family with Andrew Ridgeley, who was pushing a trolley carrying a huge birthday cake. They led the 13,000-strong crowd in a rendition of “Happy Birthday” before Ridgeley accompanied George in a performance of “I’m Your Man.”
In January 1991, Andrew joined George on stage for a few songs at the encore of his performance at the Rock in Rio event at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
On November 21, 2009, there was a Wham!-themed night on television’s The X Factor in the U.K. George Michael later appeared on the show’s final episode, performing a duet of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” with finalist and eventual winner Joe McElderry.
In 2012, George said that there was no truth in speculation that he and Andrew were set for a Wham! reunion to mark the 30th anniversary of the group’s first album.
Upon hearing of Michael’s death, Andrew Ridgeley paid his respects on Twitter, saying, “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog.”
George Michael’s Music Collaborations
In early 1987, at the beginning of his solo career, Michael released “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a Duet with Aretha Franklin, one of his favorite artists. It scored #1 on both the U.K. Singles Chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 upon its release. Michael & Aretha won a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best R&B Performance—Duo or Group with Vocal.
George Michael & Mary J. Blige “As” (a Beautiful Stevie Wonder Cover)
Page 2: George Michael’s Solo Career & Life After Wham!