Born on June 25th, 1962 in East Finchley, England, George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) grew up with his two sisters, mother and Greek father in Kingsbury, England. While he was attending secondary school, he befriended his future Wham! musical partner, Andrew Ridgeley. Both boys had the same goal in mind: to become professional musicians.
George Michael's beginnings: Wham!
Wham! was officially formed with Ridgeley in 1981. Their career was off to a great start when their debut album, Fantastic, had already reached the number one spot on the UK charts. Their next album, Make It Big, also became a huge success, with singles released like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Freedom", "Careless Whisper" and "Everything She Wants".
By 1985, Michael won his first Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year.
Wham! then released one of the biggest Christmas hits our time: "Last Christmas", which is the biggest selling single to have reached the No. 1 spot. By 1987, the famous musical duo parted ways, with The Final serving as their farewell compilation.
George Michael's Solo Career
Michael paired up with the legendary Aretha Franklin for the single "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", which became number one on both the UK and US charts. He released his first solo album Faith later in 1987, which received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 31st Grammy Awards. Faith also won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album!
Overall, Michael had received 56 nominations total in his lifetime, and had 31 wins! However, Michael struggled with sobriety. He had various run-ins with the law, including driving under the influence and possession of drugs.
Yet, George Michael's legacy is remembered with his incredible singing voice and philanthropic work. As he came out as gay in 1998, he was a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights and participated in several HIV/AIDS campaigns. He donated millions of his money towards AIDS research and cancer research.
On December 25th, 2016, Michael was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, England. He died of natural causes at the age of 53.
Here's a list of George Michael's studio albums over the span of his career:
- Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990)
- Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2 (1991, unreleased)
- The Trojan Souls (1993, unreleased)
- Older (1996)
- Songs from the Last Century (1999)
- Patience (2004)
He's always in our hearts, especially during Christmastime! Rest in peace, George.