Passings: George Michael (1963 - 2016)

by VVN Music

George Michael has died at his home in Oxfordshire, England at the age of 53.

His publicist stated "It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period. The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."

There has been no cause of death announced; however, police say there were no suspicious circumstances.

Michael had a number of medical problems over the last five years including hospitalization in Vienna, Austria in 2011 for a viral infection that turned into pneumonia and kept him in intensive care for almost two weeks. While being treated, he said he had a tracheotomy with some fearing it would affect his voice.

Two years later, he sustained a head injury when he fell from a car that was traveling at a high speed.

Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, England, but spent the majority of his early years in the Kingsbury section of London.

In his early teens, his family moved to Radlett, Hertfordshire where he became friends with Andrew Ridgeley. The two would go on to form a ska band, The Executive, and, in 1981, Wham! The band signed with Innervision Records and in 1982, released their first single, Young Guns (Go For It!) which went to number 3 in the U.K.

The pair followed in 1983 with their first album, Fantastic, which topped the charts in the U.K. but only went to 83 in the U.S. It was their second release, 1984's Make It Big, that propelled them to international stardom topping charts around the world and including four major hits, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (1984 / #1 U.S. / #1 U.K.), Careless Whisper (1984 / #1 U.S. / #1 U.K.), Freedom (1984 / #3 U.S. / #1 U.K.) and Everything She Wants (1984 / #1 U.S. / #2 U.K.).  They capped off that amazing year with a single that has gone on to be a holiday standard, Last Christmas (1984 / #2 U.K.).

By 1986, Michael was ready to make more sophisticated music and Wham! broke up, releasing one last album, Music From the Edge of Heaven (released as The Final outside of North America and Japan).

George's first solo album, 1987's Faith, took the momentum he built with Wham! and multiplied it multiple times. Faith has sold 25 million copies world wide including over ten million in the U.S. alone and includes five top five hits in the U.S. with Faith (1987 / #1 U.S. / #2 U.K.), Father Figure (1988 / #1 U.S. / #11 U.K.), One More Try (1988 / #1 U.S./ #8 U.K.), Monkey (1988 / #1 U.S. / #13 U.K.) and Kissing a Fool (1988 / #5 U.S. / #18 U.K.).

Michael continued to try and gear his sound to an adult audience with his second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 in 1990. The album produced two more hits, Praying For Time (1990 / #1 U.S. / #6 U.K.) and Freedom! 90 (1990 / #8 U.S. / #28 U.K.) but further releases from the set did not fare as well. Michael and Sony went into dispute over the album after George accused them of not promoting the album and Sony countering that Michael refused to appear in promo videos.

The dispute saw the followup, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 2 scrapped and, in the meantime, George released a live version of Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me (1991 / #1 U.S. / #1 U.K.) with Elton John and he donated three songs to the charity album Red Hot + Dance including Too Funky (1992 / #10 U.S. / #4 U.K.).

By 1996, Michael had moved to Virgin Records and released Older, his third straight number 1 in Britain. The album sent him back to the upper reaches of the charts with two singles, Jesus to a Child (1996 / #7 U.S. / #1 U.K.) and Fastlove (1996 / #8 U.S. / #1 U.K.) but they would end up being his final charting singles in America.

On April 7, 1998, Michaels was arrested and charged with "engaging in a lewd act" in a public restroom at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, CA, in effect, ending his career in the U.S. His next album, Songs From the Last Century (1999), went to number 2 in Britain but peaked at 157 in America. Even five years later, his final studio album, Patience (2004) only made it to 12 in the U.S. while topping the British charts. No singles form those albums charted in the U.S. even though he had ten more top tens in the U.K. after Fastlove.

After 2004, Michael concentrated on concert tours. His only major releases were a greatest hits set, Twenty Five (2006 / #1 U.K. / #23 U.S.) and the live album Symphonica (2014 / #1 U.K. / #60 U.S.) which was recorded during his final tour before being struck with pneumonia.

Over his career, Michael received three Brit Awards, including 1991's Best British Album for Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, and two Grammys, Best R&B Performance for I Knew You Were Waiting For Me with Aretha Franklin (1987) and Album of the Year for Faith (1989). He was also a three time Songwriter of the Year at the Ivor Novello Awards (1985, 1989 and 1996).

No comments

Powered by Blogger.