George Michael is a British musician best known for his creative songwriting and contemporary music. Wanting to pursue a musical career in his teens during the 80’s, he formed the band Wham! with fellow aspiring musician, Andrew Ridgeley. Together, they later found success and released three studio albumsーthe first of which was released in 1983. With the end of the partnership in 1986, Michael eventually began his independent solo career after recording a duet with gospel singer, Aretha Franklin. He released his debut album, Faith in October 1987; a Grammy Award winner, the album soon sent Michael flying towards stardom upon its release. Carrying on with his singing into the next decade, he released three more full-length albums during the 90’s including ListenWithout Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990, Older (1996) and Songs from the Last Century (1999).
Rising in prominence after the success of Faith, Michael has been recognized with numerous awards over the year including two Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, three BRIT Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards and four Ivor Novello Awards, amongst several others. In addition to the ones which he had won, Michael has also garnered a number of nominations throughout his career including fifteen for the MTV Video Music Award, eight for the Grammy Award, four for the MTV Europe Award, five for the American Music Award, four for the Ivor Novello Awards and one for the GLAAD Media Awards, amongst others for a total of forty five nominations. Considered to be one of the greatest musicians of the 80’s and 90’s, Michael has sold over 80,000,000 records worldwide to date.
Besides his accomplishments in music, Michael has also ventured briefly into acting including on the shows Saturday Superstore (1983), Wham!: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (1984), Extras (2007) and The Catherine Tate Show Xmas Special (2007). No stranger to the small screen, he has also appeared on multiple television programmings including Breakfast with Frost (2003), Girls and Boys: Sex and British Pop (2005), Richard & Judy (2006), Parkinson (2007) and Piers Morgan Tonight (2001), and various others. He has also been invited as a special guest onto a handful of competition and game shows including Who Wants to be a Millionaire (2003), American Idol (2008) and The X Factor (2009).
But what has the Grammy Award-winning musician been up to as of late? Where has his work brought him these past months? What happened to George Michael? Where is he now in 2018?
George Michael’s Early Life
Born on June 25, 1963 in East Finchley, London, George Michael (Birth-name: Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) is the son of a Greek restauranteur, Kyriacos Panayiotou and British dancer, Lesley Angold; he is the youngest of three children. As a young boy during the 60’s, Michael had a strong desire to become an air-pilot; however he soon gave up on the dream after realizing it to be impossible with his colour blindness and myopia. After being given a tape recorder as a present on his seventh birthday, he eventually realized a new dreamーto become a music artist. Michael would later recall how he’d “never entertained any other thought” during his adolescence after that realization.
Growing up, Michael spent his initial teen years at Kingsbury High School in his hometown of Kingsbury, London before transferring to Bushey Meads School after moving to Radlett, Hertfordshire with his family for his father’s work; it was during that time that he’d meet his future music partner in crime, Andrew Ridgely. Although the two seemed to be unlikely friends with Michael’s shyness and Ridgeley’s overwhelming popularity at the time, the pair soon soon grew close and discovered their mutual desire of becoming a musician. Working off that, the duo soon began to spend time recording songs on Michael’s tape recorder.
Despite his parent’s wishes for him to pursue a “respectable” profession such as medicine or law, Michael eventually dropped out of school at the age of sixteen to form a band with Ridgley called The Executive; however tension amongst bandmates soon caused the group to disband. Following the split, Michael continued his passion of song-writing with Ridgley throughout the next years while working several odd jobs to make ends meet. After sending off a copious amount of demo tapes to various music producers in the country, the duo eventually landed their first recording deal with the label, Innervision Records in 1982.
George Michael’s Music Career During the 80’s With Ridgley and Wham!
Shortly after signing the recording contract, Michael founded the band Wham! alongside friend and long-time partner, Ridgley. The duo released this first album entitled, Fantastic later that year; a record which eventually climbed to the number four position on British Album Charts. However it wouldn’t be until their second album that they’d be propelled into celebrity status in both their native Britain and the United States. The pair released their next album, Make It Big in October 1984. Produced by Michael himself, Make It Big was a critical hit upon its release and soon topped the charts in both the US and the UK. Consisting of eight songs, most of which were composed and written by Michael, the album has since sold over 6,000,000 copies in the US and over 1,200,000 copies in the UK, earning it 6x Platinum and 4x Platinum certification status respectively.
However despite the success of Wham!, Michael would ultimately make the decision to disband the duo in order to pursue a solo music career towards the mid 80’s. Following that, the band split up shortly after the release of their third studio album, Music form the Edge of Heaven in 1986.
George Michael’s Solo Music Career
Michael began his solo music career with a duet with gospel singer, Aretha Franklin later that year. Although a one-off project, the song I Knew You Were Waiting would earn him his first Grammy Award for “Best R&B Performance in a Duo or Group with Vocal for the Song” in 1988. Continuing with his newly found solo success, Michael released his first solo studio album entitled Faith in October 1987. Produced by the singer himself, the album featured nine songs including the popular hits Faith and I Want Your Sex.
An immediate fan favourite upon its release, the album peaked amongst the top five in over fourteen countries, including having climbed up to the number one position in both the UK and the US. Praised by music critics around the world, Faith won a multitude of awards including a Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” and three American Music Awards. Since then, it has sold over 25,000,000 units across the globe and has been certified diamond by the RIAA.
Rising in prominence, Michael released his second full-length solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 in September 1990. However despite the high expectations of critics and fans at the time, the album performed disappointingly in sales and was generally not as successful as his first record. On the charts, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 peaked at number two on the U.S. billboard 200 Chart and at number one on the UK Top Albums Chart; it has since sold 8,000,000 copies worldwideーa figure which stands in contrast to the 25,000,000 sales of his earlier album.
After releasing an EP in 1993, Michael released his third solo album, Older in May 1996ーit would also be his first under the new labels, Virgin and Dreamwork Records. As his first album in six years, Older was recorded over a three year period and featured various new musical styles compared to his previous works. Composed of eleven tracks, two of which were co-written by David Austin and Jon Douglas, Older debuted at the top of the UK Albums Chart with 281,000 copies during the first week of releaseーmaking it one of the biggest debut albums in Britain. However despite the praises and success in the UK, the album was only met with lukewarm success in the United States, where it peaked briefly within the top ten on the Billboard 200 Chart prior to slipping back down. To date, Older has sold over 1.8 million copies in the UK and a little short of one million copies in the US.
Michael released his last studio album of the 90’s in December 1999. Songs from the Last Century, as it was called, was the singer’s first album of cover songs. Amongst its ten tracks, a handful were renditions of old jazz pieces from the 70’s and 80’s. Upon its release, Songs from the Last Century peaked at number two on the UK Top Albums Chart and within the top ten in a dozen other countries. However similar to his previous album it did not perform as well in the United States and had only managed to chart at number 157 on the US Billboard 200.
Five years after the mediocre success of his last record, Michael released his first album of the 2000’sーPatience. Made available in March 2004, the album was the first to consist of original material since Older in 1996. Warmly received, Patience debuted at the top of the charts in the UK and later reached number two in Australia; in the United States, it climbed to the number twelve position after a few weeks of release. It has since sold over 600,000 copies in the UK, earning it Double Platinum status.
A decade later, Michael would release his sixth solo album in March 2014ーit would contain mostly live pieces from his Symphonica Tour.
What’s George Michael Doing Now in 2018- Recent Updates
While things may have seemed fairly quiet on the music front for Michael these past years, the silence seems to be coming to an end soon as he recently announced this August that he will be making a return to the show biz with an exclusive video documentary. According to the star, the documentary will chronicle his early career and eventual rise to fame, focusing also on his initial work with the band Wham!. In addition, rumours have also been floating around that his partner-in-crime from the 80’s, Andrew Ridgley will also be making a special appearance in the documentary. For the project, Michael has also been reaching out to fans across the country for help with the video-making process; more specifically, he’s looking for “rare Wham! and George Michael pictures and videos” from 80’s and 90’s to include in the film.
But there’s moreーthe singer also has a new solo studio album planned, which is currently still in the works. Although the release date has not been released, it will undoubtedly a big comeback for Michael, who has taken a back seat to music recording since the early 2010’s. Besides that, his manager has also confirmed that an anniversary edition of his 1990 record, Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 will be out in stores later this year.
If you’d like to stay up to date with George Michael then you can do so by following him on social mediaーyou can find him on Twitter (@GeorgeMichael) and on Instagram (@georgemofficial). Alternatively, you can follow him on his official Facebook page!