As you know, George Michael will soon be celebrating his 50th birthday. That’s quite a landmark, and an age where I’m sure George will be reflecting on everything that he’s done, at least a little. So, I thought it might be nice to collect a few of your memories here – you never know, George might even read them…
The specific question that I’m asking you to address in the comments here is – what are your earliest memories of George?
I’ll start things off with my earliest memories…
The year was 1982. I was off school one day and home alone. I was in the living room with the TV on. At that time, ITV used to play one music video every lunchtime in between TV programmes. The video for Wham Rap! came on, and I loved the record on first hearing – I thought it sounded incrediblly “musical”. I didn’t catch the name of the band though (not withstanding the big red letters in the video!), and for ages after, I was trying to find out what the record was. I failed! I wouldn’t hear the record again for a long time.
While I was aware of Wham! after that, I didn’t know the names of the band members, and I didn’t associate that first record I’d heard with the band that I saw from time to time on Top Of The Pops with Young Guns, Bad Boys, and Club Tropicana. I really hated Club Tropicana, by the way! I found it completely unbearable to listen to! Weirdly, I like the song it now – it’s one of those records that’s gotten better with time, I think.
It wasn’t until 1984, though, that I first became aware of the name “George Michael”. I’d bought the 7″ single of Wake Me Up (the first Wham! record I bought). Despite the image of Wham! in the video (not to my taste), I thought the song itself was incredible. I remember very clearly wondering if it was a cover version of an old song, and looking at the blue label in the middle of the record to find out who had actually written the song. There it was, the name of the songwriter – “George Michael”. I went to find out who that was, and discovered that it was actually the singer in the band.
It wasn’t fashionable at the time to think of George as musically talented, but to me his musicality had shone through in Wham Rap!, and Wake Me Up demonstrated to me that George was a super-talented songwriter capable of writing classic songs that would stand the test of time. Because of that, I used to use people’s views of Wake Me Up as a kind of barometer for how musical they were. In other words, see if they could separate the image of the band from the quality of the song and the record. I found it baffling that so few people were unable to see what a great song, great vocal, and record, Wake Me Up is. In fact, that’s still true today. Pretty much whenever you see people cover Wake Me Up, it’s done as kitch, cheesey version. No-one has figured out a way to separate the song from it’s original cheesey presentation. To be fair, that includes George too – as far as I know, he’s never performed the song since Wham! ended.
There were many other artists around at the time that were seen as more “credible”, but I just didn’t see it. It was always clear to me, even as a child, that their credibility was nothing to do with their musical talent. Of course, it didn’t take long for those artists to fade away, and for George to become highly regarded by many people (especially the public) as a singer and songwriter. The truth is that since George Michael was at the height of his global popularity in the late 1980s, there’s never been a singer-songwriter pop star who produces their own records that’s been as successful as he has. That’s quite an achievement.
So, there you have it, those are my very first memories of George Michael. What are yours? Please do leave them in the comments. Don’t be shy – be a brief or as detailed as you like! They can be funny or serious – doesn’t matter!