Monday 26 December 2016
2016 has been a b!tch of year where it really feels like all the cool celebrities have died. Now, I’m not dismissing the importance of any person who has passed this year, but certainly where the celebrities are concerned, one death in particular has gutted me. Today, the world woke to the news that George Michael had passed away, aged 53. His publicist made the announcement that George had passed away peacefully in his home over the Christmas break. You could have hit me for a six. Not George Michael. Couldn’t be him. As far as most people had heard, or rather not heard, there wasn’t anything terribly wrong with his current state of health. As it turns out, the news filtering to the rest of the world from the UK, George allegedly suffered a heart attack. Hit. Me. For. Six.
George Michael. I’ll put my hand up to it: George was my first love. I was gonna marry that bloke. Yes, clearly that worked out really well, for obvious reasons. Even after the lewd and indecent acts he was caught and charged with, I really still fancied George. God, I hate to think what that says about me. And no, I really don’t want you to leave or make any comments about what you think that says about me. It was a rhetorical point.
I was about ten years old when my mum put Wham! Make It Big on my g’ma’s kitchen bench in front of me. She’d been shopping, and knowing that I loved ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’, she bought the cassette album for me. Admittedly, she also quite liked ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ as well. Then a few weeks later, she picked up the very first Wham! album (Fantastic) for me. Two years after Make It Big made my constant play list, the boys announced that Wham! would release one last album, The Final, and then George and Andrew would go their separate ways. I was devastated, and ‘Edge Of Heaven’ then became the song I played on constant rotation during the next few years, alongside ‘Freedom’, ‘Careless Whisper’, ‘Last Christmas’, ‘A Different Corner’, and a sh!tload of other Wham! hits.
Needless to say, when George announced he had recorded a single and album, I was thrilled. Out came ‘Faith’, the single, and then a little time later, the album of the same name. George’s image had changed. He’d moved from that boy next door to the bad boy rocker with miles of leather, denim, and crosses hanging from his earrings. Of course, I took the cross from my necklace and attached it to one of my earrings. What else would I have done? It stayed on my earring for ages, and I’m sure that at some point my high school teachers thought I was a Muppet, but I didn’t care. What was good enough for George’s ear was good enough for mine. To be honest, the denim and the leather happened as well . . . although, for a while, I was loathe to put holes in my Levi’s. But I digress . . .
Years down the track, he brought us Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1, Older (which I loved), Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael, Songs From The Last Century, Patience, Twenty Five, Listen Without Prejudice: MTV Unplugged (Deluxe Remastered). There were a couple of Eps thrown in there as well. The albums gave us songs that underscored the lives of a generation: ‘One More Try’, ‘Father Figure’, ‘Freedom! ‘90’’, ‘Faith’, ‘Jesus To A Child’, ‘I Want Your Sex’, ‘Too Funky’, ‘Fastlove’, ‘Praying For Time’, ‘Kissing A Fool’, ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ (with Elton John), ‘I Knew You Were Waiting’ (with Aretha Franklin), ‘Amazing’, ‘Cowboys And Angels’, Heal The Pain’, ‘Outside’, ‘Older’, ‘ Waiting For That Day’, ‘The Strangest Thing’ (my favourite from Older), ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, ‘You Have Been Loved’.
It was, at one time in the late 80s, early 90s, incredibly uncool to mention that you liked Wham! or that you were a George Michael fan. It never stopped me. Cool or not, I adored George and Wham! Still do. Today, I rifled through the cassettes that I bothered to keep when CDs became the new mode of music, and I was elated to find that I had in fact kept Fantastic, Make It Big, and The Final. The original cassettes that I had, I held on to. Yes, yes, I know that some of you would have had those albums on vinyl, but my thing was the cassette tape. You couldn’t put a record player next to your pillow at night and fall asleep listening to an album, but you could put your Sony Walkman next to your pillow, and fall asleep to George’s gorgeous voice. Oh, George . . .
I realise that for a sh!tload of you, you couldn’t give a rat’s hairy arse that George is gone. Some of you are probably actually glad that he’s passed – and God knows, I’ve already seen lots of Last Christmas jokes floating about the Internet. Too soon, people, too soon. I couldn’t even post the video clip for the song because I was too upset. Yes, I am gutted that he’s gone. George Michael and Wham! were an integral part of my growing up. Of all of the celebrities who have passed this year, George’s death has hit me the hardest. I loved that guy.
I don’t know how many people are aware of George’s generosity. For example, he was known to put his hand in his pocket and pay off the student debts of wait staff, and help put people through university. The trouble is, when someone has such a turbulent private life as George, the public tends to remember those indiscretions as opposed to the good a person does. It’s impossible to talk about George Michael without alluding to those indiscretions, but rather than go into detail, I’m simply going to make passing mention to the fact that George was a bit of a pillock on more than one occasion. Still loved him though.
As I write this post, I still can’t get my head around the fact that George Michael has died. An artist who created music that formed a sizable portion of the soundtrack of my youth has gone.
Vale George Michael, 25/6/1963 – 25/12/2016 . . . you have been loved.