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Grammy Award-winning pop singer George Michael was one of the leading performers in the 1980s. His 1987 album Faith won a Grammy for best album of the year.
George Michael - Full Biography (45:19)
George Michael first took the music world by storm as part of Wham! His solo career resulted in hit songs, but his appetite for sex and drugs led to many arrests.
Under the influence of music producer Clive Davis, Aretha Franklin collaborated with pop singer George Michael to create the hit single, "I Knew You Were Waiting" in 1987.
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"You'll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart."
"The truth is my love life has been a lot more turbulent than I have let on."
"Celebrity and secrets don't go together. The bastards will get you in the end."
George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25, 1963, in East Finchley, London, England. One of the leading artists in popular music in 1980s, Michael recently returned to the spotlight. He grew up in and near London, where he developed his passion for music at an early age. While in school, Michael befriended Andrew Ridgeley, with whom he shared a love of pop music and began playing music. By some reports, Michael and Ridgeley were an unlikely duo. Michael was pudgy and shy, while Ridgeley was attractive and outgoing.
Dropping out of high school, Michael and Ridgeley started a short-lived band called the Executive. That band only played a few gigs before it fell apart, but the pair soon found success. In 1982, they landed a recording contract with Innervision records and became known as Wham! Their first album, Fantastic!, was released in Britain in 1982, and climbed as high as the No. 4 spot on the charts there (it was released in the United States the following year). With their youthful good looks, Wham! soon developed quite a following among teenage girls.
With their catchy, Motown-influenced sound, Wham! lived up to the title of their second album, Make It Big (1984). They scored their first number one hit in the United States with "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." The up-tempo hit "Everything She Wants" and the ballad "Careless Whisper" also reached the top of the U.S. charts.
As the lead vocalist and main songwriter, Michael emerged as the star of the group. It was not long before he broke out on his own. He left after the group's 1986 recording, Music from the Edge of Heaven. While it was not as big of a hit as their earlier efforts, the album still had several popular singles, including "Where Did Your Heart Go?" and "I'm Your Man."
As a solo artist, Michael earned his first Grammy Award for a duet with soul icon Aretha Franklin. Their single, "I Knew You Were Waiting," won Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1987. That same year, he made an impressive debut with Faith (1987). Trying to shed his teen heartthrob image, he went for an edgier look, often sporting a leather jacket and a few days' worth of stubble. Musically, he took a funkier direction as well with the album. Driven in part by the number one title track, the recording reached the top of the album charts. Other hits included "Father Figure," "Monkey," and "One More Try."
Michael also stirred up a lot of controversy through another track on the album—"I Want Your Sex." Some radio stations in the United States refused to play it because its explicit content while others would only play late at night for the same reason.
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