Pride Month Spotlight: George Michael

Lisa Marino, Radio General Manager

[Eds Note: This article has been published in partnership with Spinnaker Radio to feature LGBTQ+ music artists and celebrate Pride Month.] 

Singer of Careless Whisper George Michael became one of the top pop stars of his time in the U.S. and U.K. after dropping out of high school.

Michael was born on June 25, 1963. Happy birthday, George!

Growing up in London, Michael wrote his first song at six years old on a gramophone he found in his garage. He also spent his time listening to records his parents gave him as a young child, according to the Sun.

When he suffered a head injury in his youth, Michael decided he wanted to pursue music professionally.

“At the age of about eight I had a head injury…all my interests changed, everything changed in six months…I had been obsessed with insects and creepy-crawlies…suddenly, all I wanted to know about was music, it just seemed a very, very strange thing,” Michael said in his memoir Bare, according to the Sun.

In high school, Michael and his friend Andrew Ridgeley started creating music together. Dropping out of school to begin their music careers led them to sign with Innervision Records. The duo was named ‘Wham!’ They released their debut album Fantastic, which earned the number four spot on the U.K. charts.

British singer George Michael sings in concert to raise money for AIDS charity Sidaction
FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2012 file photo, British singer George Michael sings in concert to raise money for AIDS charity Sidaction, in Paris, France. A British coroner said Tuesday, March 7, 2017, that George Michael died of natural causes as the result of heart disease and a fatty liver. Darren Salter, senior coroner for Oxfordshire, says a post-mortem has found that the singer died of “dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and fatty liver.” Michael died at his home in southern England, on Dec. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

Wham! generated even more success with their second album Make it Big. Three of the band’s singles reached number one, but Michael became a solo artist and the duo separated in 1986.  

In 1987, Michael released his debut album Faith. The album included I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), a collaboration with Aretha Franklin, earning Michael his first Grammy award. Franklin and Michael won the Grammy for “Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal” the same year of the song’s release.

Michael recorded a duet with Elton John, singing Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me by John, at Wembley Stadium in 1991.

Having been accused of being gay for most of his career, Michael discussed his sexuality in an interview with CNN in April 1998.

“I have no problem with people knowing that I am in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost ten years. I do want people to know that the songs that I wrote when I was with women were really about women, and the songs I’ve written since, have been fairly obviously about men,” Michael said in the interview.

Michael died in his home on Christmas Day when he was 53 years old. Michael Lippman, Michael’s manager, said to Billboard that the suspected cause of death was heart failure, according to the Sun.

A remastered track of Michael’s number one Billboard Hot 100 single Faith was released in 2011.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of the British group WHAM! perform during a concert in Peking, China
FILE – In this April 7, 1985 file photo, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of the British group WHAM! perform during a concert in Peking, China. Michael, who rocketed to stardom with WHAM! and went on to enjoy a long and celebrated solo career lined with controversies, has died, his publicist said Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. He was 53. (AP Photo)

Organ emerges from quietude for an instrumental introduction of Faith.

Acoustic guitar interrupts the organ with an upbeat strumming pattern. Bass and percussion join the mix when Michael begins the first verse.

Snaps lift the percussion on the off beats while the hi-hat hits each sixteenth note.

The chorus is short but reiterates the core message of the song: having faith.

Between the bridge and the second verse is a brief halt in sound.

Percussion is spirited with a tambourine in the second verse. The zesty groove of guitar and bass continues.

Background (BG) vocals add piquancy to the melody, first, with diatonic harmony. The high harmony then leaps higher, liberating a descending chromatic part.

Floor tom affixes with drum set in the chorus. The high harmony prevails in the vocals with Michael’s melody track.

Guitars of various timbres exchange solo lines, exhilarating the instrumental section in the bridge. Rather than the instruments complimenting the vocals, Michael’s melody plays a supporting role to the guitars.

Both high and low BG vocals return in the final chorus. Nearly one bar of silence disguises itself as the conclusion of the song before Michael elongates the tune with one last reiteration of the hook.

George Michael’s music can be found on Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected]