“Just trying to find some peace.” – George Michael
I hope you are, George. I hope you’ve found some peace, because 2016 is leaving a wake of destruction of 80’s hit makers. Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Prince, and now George Michael. Add to that mix other musicians like Maurice White, Merle Haggard, and Leon Russell, and I think 2016 has done enough damage to the music industry.
George Michael passed away on Christmas Day at the age of just 53. The sad irony that I just posted his iconic Christmas classic “Last Christmas” on Christmas eve is not lost on me either. I will always listen to that song during Christmas season, but I will forever remember George as a black leather jacket, gold cross earring-wearing bad boy of the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s. There was no arguing the man had style and perfect hair. Wearing some aviator shades, and maintaining a perfectly unshaven beard, George was the definition of cool around 1987 and 88.
George introduced us all to the coolness of the four or five day stubble look. If I could have grown a perfect beard like his when I was junior at Norman High School in 1988, I would have definitely done that. I would have looked pretty ridiculous though in my basketball uniform.
“Because it ain’t no joy for an uptown boy whose teacher has told him goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.”
He wasn’t always the cool-looking George though. When most of us first saw and heard George Michael he was bopping around in some way too short-shorts and wearing a pink long sleeve shirt and some ridiculous yellow finger-less gloves as part of the duo known as Wham! The video for “Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)” played in heavy rotation on MTV and you couldn’t avoid it (though I tried). It was this initial foray into the public eye which made George Michael’s “announcement” later on in life that he was gay/bi-sexual a non-event for many who had this image ingrained in our memories from 1984.
After his departure from Andrew Ridgeley and the duo Wham! George remade his image into a more serious adult artist. He became a tight-jean-wearing, butt-shaking, lady killer in the late 80’s and early 90’s. When he released the controversial “I Want Your Sex” in 1987 it drew gasps from the PMRC (Casey Kasem even refused to say the name of his song on his weekly American Top 40 instead referring to it as George Michael’s latest hit), but it shot George into superstardom as one of six top five singles released from the “Faith” album. The video for the single was one of MTV’s most controversial videos at the time due to its’ sexual themes.
Many of the girls I knew loved George Michael. My wife was a big fan. I always thought there would come a time where we go catch him in concert, but this just goes to show that you never know when the end is coming for each one of us so enjoy each day.
For what it’s worth, my favorite 10 George Michael songs loosely arranged:
1. Careless Whisper 2. Too Funky 3. Everything She Wants (Wham!) 4. Last Christmas 5. I Want Your Sex 6. Freedom ’90 7. Faith 8. One More Try 9. & 10. would be his duets with Elton John (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”), and Aretha Franklin (“I Knew You Were Waiting”).
“So if you love me. Say you love me. But if you don’t just let me go.”
There were thousands that loved the soulful sound and model looks of George Michael, but it’s unfortunately time to let another 80’s icon go. Memories preserved forever through the magic of music, and George gave us some of the best. This song was a #1 hit in the U.S. for Michael in 1988 as the fourth single released off of his multi-platinum album “Faith.” It’s “One More Try.”
R.I.P. Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou
Thanks for reading.