George Michael

June 25, 1963 - December 25, 2016

George Michael Artistfacts

  • He was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in Bushley, Hertfordshire, England.

    Michael's family was not at all musical, but he grew up listening to a diverse collection of music. When he was a child, he was given three 45s as a gift that sparked his love of music. One of them was the Tom Jones song "Delilah
    " and the other two were Supremes records. He cites both artists as an influence on his sound.
  • When Michael was in high school, he met Andrew Ridgeley (who would become the other half of Wham!). The two of them realized that they both shared an intense love for pop music. When their friendship first blossomed, Ridgeley was the outgoing, good looking, and confident one while Michael was the shy, unsure, introvert. Ridgeley groomed Michael into a pop star by teaching him how to style his hair, how to dress, and how to be a charismatic performer.
  • His album Faith (which he produced) won Album Of The Year at the Grammy Awards in 1988. He also won a Grammy in 1987, for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, shared with Aretha Franklin for the song, "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ari - Elizabeth, NJ
  • Michael has been arrested no fewer than four times, including in 2006 when police discovered marijuana in his car. His first, and most notable arrest was in 1998 for lewd conduct in a Los Angeles bathroom. After the incident, where Michael was caught by an undercover cop, he declared his homosexuality and wrote a song about it called "Outside," where he made fun of the incident.

    Michael wanted to reassure his fans that even though he was not always truthful about his sexuality, he had always been honest regarding his music. He told CNN in 1998 that he does write about his actual life, stating: "I do want people to know that the songs that I wrote when I was with women were really about women. And the songs that I've written since have been fairly obvious about men."
  • Michael was just 19 when Wham! rose to fame in Europe, and he became a favorite with young girls. It was also a very difficult time for him, as he struggled with fame and with his identity. He explained in a 1988 talk with Q magazine: "Around '84 it wasn't me. I don't know who I wanted me to be. I became this harmless, feminine-looking David Cassidy figure who all the little girls could take home without any fear of me putting my hand up their skirt. It was a strange situation because before that I wasn't the type of guy who could walk into a room and pull any bird, and suddenly, at 19, I could."
  • He avoided talking about his sexuality, which led to lots of speculation in the British press that he was gay. His responses to these queries included, "People haven't the right to know" and "My sexuality is no one's f--king business." He didn't come out until his 1998 arrest for lewd conduct.
  • In 1981, Michael worked various jobs after the failure of his and Ridgeley's first group, The Executive. One of the jobs that he worked was as a DJ at a restaurant, which he called "the absolute worst - probably the most embarrassing thing that I have ever done in my life." He wrote the song "Careless Whisper" in his head on the bus on his way to work. By the time he recorded the demo, he was fired from the restaurant for always showing up late, and he started to DJ at a squash club. The last night he worked at the health club, he played the finished demo for "Careless Whisper."

    He recalled what happened in his book Bare: "So right at the end of the night I played it. The floor filled. They had never heard it before and I remember thinking - that's a good sign. And I wondered what was going to happen to that song later on."
  • Michael felt like he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown during the Faith tour in 1988. He had a difficult time dealing with the gigantic success of the album, and took to wearing sunglasses to avoid eye contact with strangers.
  • In September 1990, Michael told the LA Times' Calendar magazine that he would revert back to living a more private life and would do little promotion for his second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. He announced: "I won't be talking again until I've got something to say."

    He held to this statement, passing up interviews and refusing to tour or to star in his own music videos. Only a week after the story was printed, a letter from Frank Sinatra was published that addressed the George Michael article about the "reluctant pop star." Sinatra urged Michael to stop speaking about the "tragedy of fame" and to be thankful he is not playing to an empty bar every night. Sinatra ended the letter by telling Michael that he should not let his talent be wasted. "Those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you. Trust me. I've been there," he wrote. Michael did not listen to Sinatra, though. He did not do another interview until six years later.
  • During the early '90s, Michael got into a lengthy legal battle with his record label, Sony. He made a statement about their "divorce," and concluded, "We do not speak the same language." Michael wanted to distance himself from the company because they did not believe in his artistic vision. He did not want to redo Faith and continue with the image that was built around it, and that was so successful. Michael was changing and growing older, so he wanted to be taken seriously not only as a singer but also as a songwriter. He told The Big Issue that he was "trying to get myself into a situation where I worked with a company that had some respect for me."

    He ended up losing the case, which prevented him from making music for two years. He eventually got out of his contract with Sony and was able to sign deals with Virgin in Britain and DreamWorks in America. Ironically, he ended up re-signing with Sony in 2004.
  • Michael confessed that he took up smoking pot during the recording of his third album, Older. He had never been so stressed while creating an album and smoking weed is what calmed him down. He admitted to The Big Issue in 1996 that he had a hard time writing lyrics and that smoking a drag always helped him figure out exactly what he wanted to say, "It's bad because I don't want to smoke but I can't see myself giving grass up as a writer."
  • Michael dedicated his third album Older to his speculated (years later Michael admitted) lover, Anselmo Feleppa, who died in 1993 of a brain hemorrhage caused by HIV. He wrote in the liner notes, "This album is dedicated . . . to Anselmo Feleppa, who changed the way that I look at my life." Michael has stated in various interviews that Feleppa was the first person he ever truly loved.
  • His mother died of cancer in 1997. Michael revealed on the BBC's Radio 4 Desert Island Discs that his mom was one reason why he kept his homosexuality a secret for so long. He explained that in the late '80s and early '90s, the biggest fear surrounding homosexuality was HIV, and he could not bring himself to tell his Mom because he knew it would constantly worry her. "My mother was still alive and every single day would have been a nightmare for her thinking what I might have been subjected to," he said.

    He dedicated his 1998 two-disc greatest hits compilation Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael to his mother. Michael experienced a deep depression for a few years following her death.
  • While on tour in November 2011, Michael was rushed to a hospital in Vienna and ended up staying there for five weeks battling pneumonia. The first three weeks he was in a coma and the doctors were just trying to keep him alive. When he was finally released two weeks later, he gave a tearful press conference outside his home in London. Speaking out-of-breath and wearing a now-oversized coat, he called it, "by far the worst month of my life."

    Michael thanked his fans for their support and messages, and promised them he would make up the cancelled concerts. He went on to praise the staff at the hospital for saving his life, saying, "I would like to play one other show, for the doctors in the hospital in Austria that saved my life. I spent the last 10 days since I woke up literally thanking people for saving my life, which is something I've never had to do before, and I don't want to have to do it again." He wrote the song "White Light" about his near-death experience.
  • In 2000, George Michael bought the Steinway Model Z upright piano on which John Lennon wrote "Imagine" for £1.45 million ($1.94 million). He loaned it to The Beatles Museum in Liverpool, where it has been on display.
  • He did jail time in 2010 after being arrested for crashing his Range Rover into a building while under the influence of marijuana. He served four weeks in Highpoint prison in Suffolk, beginning September 14.
  • In 1990, at the height of his popularity, Michael stopped talking to the press, stating, "I won't be talking again until I've got something to say." He didn't grant another interview until 1996, which he spoke with Adrian Deevoy for a piece in The Big Issue.
  • George Michael died of heart failure aged just 53 in bed at his riverside home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. He was found by his boyfriend, Australian hair stylist Fadi Fawaz, on Christmas morning, December 25, 2016.
  • Following Michael's shocking death, details of his private philanthropic endeavors came to light. Many charities revealed that the pop star had privately supported them for many years.

    Michael also gave to individuals; after a contestant on the quiz show Deal or No Deal revealed that she needed £15,000 to fund IVF treatment, the pop star called the show the next day to anonymously donate the money.
  • Michael told GQ in 2004: "I never minded being thought of as a pop star. People have always thought I wanted to be seen as a serious musician, but I didn't, I just wanted people to know that I was absolutely serious about pop music."

Comments: 10

  • Anette from SwedenGeorgeous Genious George, the Man, who had it all.
    His integrity, His charm, His honesty, His kindness, and most of all, His voice.
    So, so sad that He couldn't find, peace and love.
    All those lyrics, that touch every nerv i our hearts.
    The musician world is not the same since 2016.
    George was such a Genious songwriter and musician, He was worth so much more better in life.

    We will never forget Him, and will forever and ever, listen to His AMAZING voice and music.

  • Yvette T. from VaMr. George Michael was a GENIUS...a master of his trade. He was indeed the perfect package...a total package. A brilliant author of songs that told his story, Songs expressing his sadness, his pain and sorrow. Songs expressing his happiness, his joy. His captivating voice can never be touched by another...ever. His voice, his music vibrates to the very depth of the heart and soul. Mr. George Michael, a gentleman, an author, a musician and so loved and so missed by many. Someday perhaps, his story will be seen on the big screen for all to appreciate...celebrating his life.
  • Victoria Ana-tolian Semenenko 02.10.1976 from UkraineBasically George choosed a pseudo Michael just because he found that sound great like there was his classmate named so. Despite me as still a kid then was also saying that Michael is the most beautiful male`s name in the world ;)))
  • Diedra from Usa@Annabelle and @Cindy, I have heard George Michael say that his name is pronounced YOR-gos (rolling the R) Keeree-AH-co PAN-ay-Oh-Toh. Georgios Kyriacou Panayiotou. He chuckles as he says it's a "snappy little pop name". The interview can be found on Youtube "George Michael Talks To Kristi Wark" (4 part interview). I also read how he came up with his stage name George Michael. Will repost when/if I find it again.
  • Red from Tarboro, NcSay what you want concerning his sexuality, George Michael is a musical GENIOUS (and I've only heard that term used referring to one other & that's Stevie Wonder). Gotta agree with you, Erin... even if we underappreciate what we have in him, future generations will be inspired by what we blew off. And while I feel that homosexuality is wrong, I've never liked him for his sexuality, but for his soulful, inspiring, introspective songs. Has been my favorite sing I first heard that sax at the beginning of Careless Whisper. If only we could get past our biases & LISTEN, without prejudice!
  • Erin from Portland, OrGeorge Michael is one messed up guy - BUT.... HOW does he not get the credit for being one of the greatedst voices as well as writers in pop history??? The man is TALENTED!! Is it because, as he so clearly spells out in Faith, that he feels he 'sold out" to the pop machine? After Wham and then hits like I Want Your Sex did people just stop actually listening? Listen Without Predjudice was more than an album title. It was a real statement because his voice and his lyrics are far too once-in-a-lifetime for a person who has become nothing more than fodder for the tabloids. George, if you are out there, please just keep singing and writing because in generations to come your work will be what future stars will name as thier influence. You are a treasure. "SIR" Elton John my a$$! George writes relevent songs about things other than drug abuse and non-sense PLUS - HE can SING like few others ever have!!!
  • Cindy from High Point, NcGeorgios is George in Greek.Georg e ous is how it's pronounced..Kyriacos is his middle..Kyr e ac os is the pronunciation of his middle name...Panayiotou is Pan ey ot ou..the origin and nationality is Greek Cypriot..I don't know the meaning..Hope I could help
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrYes, especially if no one knew how to pronounce the name. How do you pronounce it?
  • Paul from Detroit, MiThe name is Greek. I don't know why he decided on George Michael, but wouldn't you pick something a little simpler if you wanted to become famous and had a given name like Georgios Kyriacos Panayioutou?
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrThese are the greatest mysteries to me, and I wonder if anyone can solve them. How did he get the name George Michael? How do you pronounce the name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou? What is the origin and nationality, and possible meaning of the name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou?
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