Two Decades Of Singer George Michael As He Turns 50
When asked if he was going to make a public appearance for his birthday, a spokeswoman for the singer said “He is fiercely private. He is having a quiet birthday with his friends and family.”
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Michael burst on to the British pop scene in the early 80s as the lead singer of Wham!, which had a string of catchy hits including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas”.
He also found success as a solo artist with chart-toppers like “Careless Whisper” and “A Different Corner”, and it was only a matter of time before he struck out alone.
His rich vein continued with the 1987 No. 1 “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” in which he performed with Aretha Franklin, one of his favourite artists.
The same year he released “Faith”, an album which spawned a string of hit singles including “I Want Your Sex”, “Faith” and “Father Figure” and earned the singer a Grammy.
It was his best-selling album, although he did top charts around the world with subsequent releases.
Michael has sold an estimated 100 million records over his career, but has hit headlines in recent years for his personal life more often than for his music.
In 2010, he admitted to driving under the influence of cannabis and crashing into a North London shop. He received a jail sentence.
In 2007 he had to hand in his driving license after being found asleep in his car. But his most notorious arrest was in 1998 when he was convicted of a ‘lewd act’ in a public Los Angeles toilet. After that incident he ended years of speculation announcing that he was gay. He also released his new single ‘Outside’ making fun of the incident.
He then courted controversy again by speaking out against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A court appearance of a different kind was his public attempt to try and get released from his Sony contract which he eventually lost.
The relationship between Michael and Sony started to go sour after the release of ‘Faith’ and the five number one hits that album spawned. Sony wanted Michael to promote his next album, ‘Listen Without Prejudice’, in the same way he had for ‘Faith’, but Michael wanted to concentrate on writing instead.
Michael also said that Sony refused to get behind an AIDS charity release, Red, Hot And Blue, to which he contributed and were reportedly reluctant to release a duet with Elton John — “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” — although it had gone to number one in 15 countries.
Taking stock of his over two decades in the music industry Michael produced a documentary ‘A Different Story’ which he showed at the Berlin Film Festival in 2005.