George Michael was a man of many talents. Singing, song-writing and producing an array of different music releases made him one of the world’s biggest-selling artists and, with an unmatchable charisma and stage presence he quickly became a favourite at live shows whenever he would perform.
In his early career he was a part of hugely successful duo Wham! alongside Andrew Ridgeley and became a huge cultural icon of the 1980s and 1990s with his signature style of post-disco dance-pop. For the big fans of music at the time, he was a God-like creation.
Constantly unafraid to be himself, George decided he was going to embark on a solo career and spent most of 1987 writing material for his debut solo record, ‘Faith’. Set for release in autumn of the same year he had a lot of work to do to ensure he would be as successful on his own as he was alongside Andrew Ridgeley, but if he had any fears they were soon to be thwarted, with ‘Faith’ topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and selling more than 25 million copies around the globe.
This would kick off the singer’s most successful few decades as he went on to sell over 100 million records worldwide, gained seven number one singles in the UK and did even better in the US on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the chart’s peak with eight different songs including ‘Careless Whisper’. Ranking amongst the most successful British musicians of all-time, Billboard magazine named him the 40th most successful artist to ever exist. His 30-year career also saw him win two Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, three BRITs and four Ivor Novello Awards. It’s fair to say he was a hugely celebrated musician.
Of course there were the dark periods in George’s life which saw him hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, but that’s not something we’re going to go into today. We should be using December 26 as a time to celebrate and appreciate the incredible work George Michael did rather than reflecting and speculating on the moments in his career he wasn’t so proud of.
What we can talk about however is what was seen as his first big music comeback in 2004, when he recorded and released the album ‘Patience’ which saw instant UK success. Despite it doing so well, George went on to tell media outlets that he would no longer make music for profit and would instead do so with the intent of allowing fans to download the new songs for free and, if they could afford it, to put the money they would have spent on the songs to charity.
Fast-forward to the 2010s and George announced the Symphonica Tour, successfully completing some dates of the live circuit before being struck ill with pneumonia and becoming severely ill. A fighter all his life, George overcame the illness but told his fans he wouldn’t be able to perform for some time, before making his first appearance after the illness as a surprise at the 2012 BRIT Awards, presenting fellow British music icon Adele with the accolade for Best British Album.
It wasn’t until March 2014 that George released his ‘Symphonica’ album, quickly zooming to the top of the UK charts once more with a collection produced by Phil Ramone – the producer’s final production credit.
What fans of George know all too well is that he wasn’t just a champion for music, but for equality, being yourself and standing up for what you believe in. Originally telling his friends at the beginning of his career that he himself was a bisexual man, George had recalled the times he would sleep with various women during his days in Wham!, but always knew he was a homosexual male. Once he had really embraced himself there was nothing he wouldn’t put his name to if he felt strongly enough about it.
He even wrote a song called ‘Shoot the Dog’, critical of the relationship Tony Blair and George W. Bush shared during the time the former world leaders decided to declare war on Iraw. He asked: “On an issue as enormous as the possible bombing of Iraq, how can you represent us when you haven’t asked us what we think?”
George had revealed that a documentary on his life called Freedom would be released in March 2017. Now with the singer’s passing, we can only hope everything was completed on the movie so he can be immortalised in film once more and his fans have one last big release to look forward to.