George Michael born 25 June 1963
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, London, George Michael first found fame with his school friend Andrew Ridgely in the hugely successful 80s pop duo Wham! But George was always really a solo artist with a best mate along for the ride and he released two successful solo singles - both now classics - Careless Whisper (1984) and A Different Corner (1986). In '86, the inevitable happened and Wham! split.
George Michael has released relatively few solo albums in the ensuing 20+ years but has achieved global record sales of 80 million, mostly in the early years when he was truly a global superstar.
Faith (1987), which spawned 4 US number 1 singles, Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 (1990), Older (1986), Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael (1998), a poorly received album of covers Songs From the Last Century (1999) and Patience (2004). Another greatest hits album Twenty Five was released in 2006 to coincide with his first tour for 15 years.
George's solo career has been beset by a number of personal problems which have combined to dwindle his output and ultimately his success, although some beautiful music has come as a result: a 1993 court case with his record label; a reluctance to appear in videos; a refusal to tour for over 15 years; the death of his lover from an AIDS-related illness - George was still officially in the closet at this point; the death of his mother from cancer; and his arrest in 1998 for 'engaging in a lewd act' with an undercover police officer in a public restroom in a Beverley Hills park.
Ironically, this forced coming out boosted his popularity in the UK, gave him a huge hit with Outside and tied in with his Ladies & Gentlemen best of album. Less ironically, the scandal destroyed his career and credibility in a less-forgiving US, and he is no longer really a global superstar, although his 2006-8 live appearances demonstrated his resilience as a star and the strength of his (surprisingly brief) catalogue.
George Michael remains a great and enduring songwriter, a powerful and emotional singer, a charismatic performer and a celebrity we can't get enough of - even if he does take himself too seriously, is always having public spats with Elton John and mishaps in his several cars - allegedly due to his deep love of the demon weed. Michael claims to use cannabis as an aid to creativity and to fight off depression.
In 2006 George Michael undertook a successful arena tour of Europe and the UK - his first live tour for 15 years. Following this success, Michael undertook a major stadium tour in 2007 and in 2008 finally returned to North America to tour, also appearing on the American Idol 2008 finale.
In 2008 he announced two final shows for London's Earl Court and that he would once again retire from the live stage. In 2009 he duetted on Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me with eventual winner Joe McElderry on The X-Factor finale. He undertook a short tour of Australia in 2010 and appeared at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras after party.
In early-2008 he signed a major deal with Harper Collins to write a 'no-holds barred' autobiography.
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