Everybody loves trivia! Well, that’s not exactly true. But if you love Wham! and George Michael (which if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you do!) today’s your lucky day!
Michael was once (perhaps) the biggest name in pop music, there is now a “deeply autobiographical” movie, George Michael Freedom Uncut, that just released on June 22.
Test your knowledge, learn something new or just stock up for those virtual trivia nights! Here are twenty-five facts on the man who once donned the tiniest shorts ever and made them look amazing!
1. George Michael’s full name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou! What a title! Could you imagine having to write that on government documents or signing autographs? The name is actually cultural. Michael’s family, on his father’s side, was of Greek descent. His mother, Jewish.
2. Singer George Michael was born in East Finchley, London. Much of his childhood was spent in Kingsbury, london. When his family moved during his teen years to Hertfordshire he attended Bushey Meads School.
3. From a young age, Michael wanted to be a musician. He busked Queen songs, worked as a DJ at schools and clubs and formed a SKA band called “the Executive with Andrew Ridgeley, Ridgeley’s brother and David Mortimer, and a friend.
4. Andrew Ridgeley and Goerge Michel met when Ridgeley offered to be Michael’s tutor.
5. After the ska band disbanded, Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, formed the duo Wham! in 1983. Their first album was called “Fantastic”.
6. He was a true musician, working on projects outside of Wham! He sand on the Band aid recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, Elton John’s “Nikita” and “Wrap Her Up”, and David Cassidy’s “The Last Kiss”.
7. Wham!’s second record, Make It Big debut in 1984 and was a number 1 hit! It features all of our favorites like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Freedom”, “Everything She Wants”.
8. Wham! was in the middle of huge success when George Michael started releasing solo music including his solos “Careless Whisper” and “A Different Corner”. Rumors swirled that they were going to break up. In 1986 Wham disbanded after releasing “The Edge of Heaven” and a Wembley Stadium show including clips from their China tour.
9. Michael began his solo career the following year. He collaborated with powerhouse Aretha Franklin on “I knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”. The song charged number one in both the United States and the UK. Michael and Aretha Franklin won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance- Duo or Group with Vocal for the Song for their duet, “I knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”.
10. He wrote, produced, and played many of the instruments on the album. Only once song on Faith did he co-write. Faith (The Album) won a Grammy Award for “Album of the Year” in 1989. It lent to his deepest feeling of struggling with life in the spotlight. This was when he started wearing sunglasses to avoid making eye contact with strangers because it made him nervous.
11. Frank Sinatra called him a “reluctant pop star”. This was when he released his second album, sans promotion, Listen Without Prejudice, Volume 1.
12. Due to its sexually suggestive nature, “I Want Your Sex” was banned from many radio stations. Some stations just played an edited version, “I Want Your Love”. Others added “from Beverly Hills Cop II because it was featured in the movie and on the soundtrack. Music video stations only played the music video lat at night. Regardless of the controversy, “I Want Your Sex” was a hit. The song was a hit. It reached No. 2 and 3 on both the US and UK charts.
13. Although the world didn’t find out that George Michael was bisexual until he was arrested in 1988, he’d come out to close friends like Andrew Ridgeley as a teen. He didn’t want his mother to know. He thought it would “affect” her.
14. His partner Anselmo Feleppa, a Brazilian designer died of AIDS. He didn’t tell his family for support, because he still hadn’t come out to them. He couldn’t write music for over a year. He wrote “Jesus to a Child in honor of his late lover.
15. George Michael’s favorite song was “Love Is a Losing Game” by Amy Winehouse. He’s covered the song.
16. In 2011, he almost died of pneumonia in 2011 and was hospitalized for a month. He performed a free show for the hospital staff who saved his life to show his gratitude.
17. He performed Stevie Wonder’s “You and I” as a wedding present for Kate Middleton and Prince William.
18. He had a short-acting stint. In 2008 he appeared in Eli Stone as a guardian angel to Jonny Lee Miller’s character. Each episode of the show’s first season was named after one of his songs.
19. He performed with Beyonce in 2009 on or “I AM” tour. They did a duet of her hit “If I Were A Boy“
20. George Michael was 4/20 friendly.
21. … a little too friendly. In an interview, he mentioned cutting back on how much he used to smoke, on smoke 7 or 8 spliffs as opposed to almost 30. We see you, Michael! In his lifetime he also was arrested for Class C drugs and got a DUI.
22. There is an autobiographical film of Michael called “A Different Story.
23. He was a charitable soul. He anonymously paid for several women to have IVF, volunteered at a homeless shelter. He also arranged for his $14 million art collection to be actioned and the funds to go to charities.
25. George Michael died of heart failure in his sleep on Christmas day 2016 at his home of Oxfordshire.