The Magic of George Michael: Bringing the “Faith”
over a Glorious 30-Year Music Career
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At the age of 17, a young boy with a love of big print t-shirts, and an emerging talent for songwriting penned the lyrics to “Careless Whisper”. The song narrated the pain of love and consequent heartbreak, and seduced listeners in a way that few artists have been able to achieve. Over the next 30 years, pop idol and celebrated artist George Michael threw at us, a variety of lessons on faith, passion, and love. Always embellished with great hair and the much revered leather jacket-denim combination, in classic ‘90s pop fashion.

In a statement issued by his family (via his publicist), George Michael’s death was announced on Christmas Day (December 25, 2016), at the age of 53. He “passed away peacefully” at his home in Oxfordshire.

Youthful Beginnings

Born to Greek – English parents, Michael’s interest in music sparked at a young age, when he was gifted a set of LPs of the Welsh singing legend, Tom Jones and the all-female American pop outfit of ‘60s – The Supremes. Unsurprisingly, these early influences reflect vicariously throughout Michael’s songwriting and compositions.

This new found interest in music and songwriting piqued significantly during his early teenage years, and took serious shape when he met schoolmate, Andrew Ridgley. The pair made a variety of attempts to take their passion for music to bigger audiences, such as the (short-lived) Ska genre band, The Executives. However, it was only in the year of 1983, that the duo truly broke into the London pop scene as a refreshing, new-to-hear, energetic outfit that called itself Wham!.

The Big Wham! Bam

Over the course of the next 5 years, Wham! exploded onto stages across UK and US with hit singles such as “Fantastic”, “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”, “Freedom” and “Careless Whisper”, released over two albums. The band’s last hit “The Edge of Heaven” reaffirmed the duo’s talent in bringing to audiences, fresh pop sounds, even as the duo parted ways finally in the year 1986 (largely attributed to Michael’s burgeoning success as a solo artist that was taking shape in parallel).

A Record Breaking Solo Career & Growing Up

In the winter of the year 1987, despite meteoric success from his first solo album, “Faith”, Michael experienced deep personal struggles with his artistic identity. Triggered by a rigorous promotional tour by his then record label, Michael, struggled to balance media shows and music tours, with his fast approaching first signs of depression and troubles over his sexuality. Consequently, the pop start went almost into hiding, at the time of his next release, bringing down album sales drastically, but reflecting a more mature style of composition, nonetheless.

Over the course of the next decade, Michael’s music would appear with deeper, more eloquent sounds, and personified a gradual growing up of the artists himself, with songs like “Praying For Time” and “Jesus to a Child”. However, his personal crises continued to take a turn for the worse, as he struggled to cope up with the successive deaths of this partner Anselmo Fellepa, and his mother thereafter.

To make matters worse, Tabloid gossip already rife over Michael’s sexuality and drug abuse, during the ‘90s, went into complete frenzy with his arrest for engaging in a “lewd act” inside a public restroom in Beverly Hills, in 1998. Interestingly, the artist released a comic satire driven video (inspired by the washroom incident), to his famous song “Outsider”, complete with disco toilets and stripping police officers.

The Music Industry Love for “Magical Michael”

In spite of the downward spiral towards self-destruction in his personal life, George Michael dominated music charts, as well as young hearts for most of his career. The artist won numerous music awards, including the Brit Awards, MTV Music Awards, and 2 Grammy Awards (for 8 nominations). His albums were popularly accompanied with progressive, sensational video imagery (note Kathy Jeun’s racy bed dance sequence in the video “I Want Your Sex”) that caught the attention of the global youth, establishing him among the most revered pop icons of the world.

Members of the music fraternity, took to twitter to commemorate the life of George Michael and pay tribute to his artistic ingenuity by pasting lyrics from some of his most popular numbers.

Sir Elton John tearfully wrote, “I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. RIP @GeorgeMichael.

In another moving tribute, former band mate and close friend Andrew Ridgley, wrote “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx”

Superstar Madonna, chose to blame 2016, in her Twitter rant to share her grief over the loss of “Another Great Artist”. (Her Twitter post read: “Farewell My Friend! Another Great Artist leaves us. Can 2016 Fuck Off NOW?”)

In a 2014 interview with BBC Music, George Michael, fondly remembered his very first musical composition to be a song called “Music Maker of the World”, that was set to some fast paced pillow drumming and fierce air guitar”ing”. Even during his death, this pop legend continues to remain among the most loved and cherished “Music Makers”, of the world.

(This article has been contributed by Shweta Sharma who is a Delhi-based musician/entrepreneur)

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