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At a Glance

Birthname: Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou
Nationality: British
Born: Jun 25 1963


Biography

George Michael has been British pop royalty ever since he took the charts by storm with Wham! in 1982, and since then he has gone on to establish himself as one of the UK’s most respected singer/songwriters. As well as his chart-topping success with Wham! he has been a solo star for over 20 years, achieving huge international success and selling over 80 million records along the way. Michael is also the Most Played Artist on British radio over the last 20 years.

But George Michael has never thought of popular music as just a career; it’s far more personal - and precious - than that. He ... Read more

George Michael has been British pop royalty ever since he took the charts by storm with Wham! in 1982, and since then he has gone on to establish himself as one of the UK’s most respected singer/songwriters. As well as his chart-topping success with Wham! he has been a solo star for over 20 years, achieving huge international success and selling over 80 million records along the way. Michael is also the Most Played Artist on British radio over the last 20 years.

But George Michael has never thought of popular music as just a career; it’s far more personal - and precious - than that. He has always taken the long-term view that, ultimately, an artist’s achievement should not be judged merely in terms of their number one singles, their magazine covers or even their prestigious awards. Rather, they should be judged on a larger body of work, a lifetime’s development reflected in a collection of albums produced over a period of time, and in an art-form (true to a singer’s heart) that has no dependency on shock, rebellion or gimmicks to make its mark.

George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on 25 June 1963 in North London. When the Panayiotou family later moved to Bushey in Hertfordshire, George went on to meet his future Wham! partner - Andrew Ridgeley - at the local comprehensive school.
The 1980s

George and Andrew formed their first band, The Executive, in 1981, but soon realised their chosen path lay as a duo. Wham! was born at the beginning of 1982 and within a year they had released their classic debut single, Wham Rap. However, it was their second single, Young Guns (Go For It!) that became the first in a string of Top 10 hits for the group.

In the summer of 1984 George unveiled a glimpse of what was to come by releasing the classic Careless Whisper, his first solo single while still with Wham! It became one of the signature songs of the Eighties as well as one of the most-played radio songs of the decade - and it was written when he was still only 17.

His growing maturity was further established with the release of A Different Corner, his second solo single, and another mature ballad of note. A few months later George and Andrew decided that Wham! would disband while still at the very peak of their success. This announcement was followed by a unique final concert at Wembley in 1986, an emotional farewell in front of 72,000 fans. Their place was assured as one of the most exuberant pop bands of the Eighties. That George Michael was set for a remarkable solo career was also a certainty.

In 1987 George became the first white male vocalist ever to duet with soul legend, Aretha Franklin. The result, I Knew You Were Waiting, shot straight to the top of the charts worldwide and started off a year that saw George jetting between London and Denmark, where he recorded tracks for his outstanding (and now iconic) debut album Faith.

The album, released in November 1987, revealed George Michael to be one of the finest songwriters of the decade. When the album went to No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic (with worldwide sales approaching 15 million) the pop world sat up and took notice - and a whole new audience was guaranteed.

Faith received a Grammy for the Best Album of 1988, and won George two Ivor Novello Awards for Songwriter Of The Year and International Hit Of The Year (for the title single from the album). George also won American Music Awards for Favourite Male Vocalist (pop/rock), Favourite Male Artist (soul/R&B) and Favourite Album (soul/R&B).

In America, the outstanding success of Faith was marked by six No.1 singles, including: I Want Your Sex; Father Figure; One More Try and Kissing A Fool.

The live 'Faith' tour followed in February 1988, taking the hits package to a momentous opening date at Tokyo's Budokan Stadium, and then on to ecstatic audiences in Australia, Europe and North America. In June, George interrupted the tour to sing three songs at Wembley Stadium's Nelson Mandela Freedom Concert.

The 1990s

By September 1990 George had gathered together a new body of work for the album Listen Without Prejudice: Vol.1 - and another new direction was visible from the first single, Praying For Time. Much of the album had a raw, stripped-down feel, and drew heavily from classic Sixties tracks, black rhythm and jazz moods. Mostly they were personal, increasingly philosophical songs; once again they went against the prevailing chart trends.

His videos during this period created new waves too: it was almost unheard of for an artist of his stature not to appear centre-stage, but for Freedom 90, he found other stars (notably the super-models) Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. This was the first time they had been seen together away from the catwalks, and it was an attraction no one was able to resist thereafter.

The album was another British No.1, and also spawned the hit singles Waiting For That Day, Heal The Pain and Cowboys and Angels. Still only in his twenties, Michael was already being classed alongside those artists he admired most, and with whom he had the honour of dueting: Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. He also brought out an autobiography to coincide with the new album, Bare, (co-written with Tony Parsons), and was granted a UK television special - the ultimate cultural sign of arrival.

In November 1991 George released Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, a duet with Elton John, from one of George's Wembley concerts. The song was another No.1 hit worldwide, and all proceeds went to the AIDS hospice, London Lighthouse and the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity.

A few months later George was in the charts once more with Too Funky, a single from the Red Hot and Dance AIDS charity album, which included a collection of remixed hits by artists such as Madonna and Seal as well as three brand new George Michael songs - the only new songs on the album.
This single went on to become Europe's most played record of 1992, helped partly by the accompanying video, directed by George and styled by designer Thierry Mugler.

Early in 1993 George spent three weeks at the top of the charts with the Five Live EP, which featured duets with Queen and Lisa Stansfield. These tracks were from the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and from Michael’s own ‘Cover To Cover’ tour in 1991. All proceeds went to the Freddie Mercury Phoenix Trust.

In October 1993, in a bold statement that made headlines worldwide, George appeared in court against his record company, Sony Music Entertainment. It was an attempt to break free from a company that, he claimed, no longer accepted his musical direction. Nine months later, the judge found in favour of the record company. An appeal was issued, and was due to be heard in 1996.

On 1st December 1993, (World AIDS Day), George played a benefit concert in front of the late Diana, Princess Of Wales. This 'Concert Of Hope', which also featured KD Lang and Mick Hucknall, was televised worldwide, doing much to raise funds as well as an awareness of the disease.

Towards the end of 1994 Michael performed a new song on the first MTV European Music Awards, in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Jesus To A Child was the first new George Michael song that the huge television audience had heard for almost three years, and it was met with universal acclaim.

Undeterred by the fact that he still wasn't able to release any new material (because of his pending court case with Sony,) Careless Whisper was voted (in January 1995) as Londoner’s favourite record of all time, in a competition run jointly by the capital's leading evening newspaper and its most-listened to radio station. Michael was then voted Best Male Singer by the same radio station, and by the readers of a national newspaper. In April 1996, George won the Capital Radio award for 'Best Male Singer' once more and was also honoured with an 'Outstanding Contribution To Music' award.

By July 1995, after many months of negotiations, it was agreed that Michael would leave Sony and sign two new deals, one with Virgin Records for the World (excluding the United States) and the other with Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg's newly formed SKG Music in North America.

George's first album for Virgin Records, Older, was released on 13 May 1996.
Written, arranged and produced by George Michael, the album was recorded in London and featured 11 brand new tracks including the huge international hits: Jesus To A Child, Fastlove, and Spinning The Wheel.

The video for Fastlove picked up the 'MTV Europe International Viewers Choice Award' at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York in September 1996.

At the beginning of October 1996, George performed his first live shows for five years with a gig for Radio 1FM followed by an Unplugged Session for MTV. Although these two concerts were attended by the smallest audiences that George had ever played to, he claims they were two of his most enjoyable, due to their intimacy. The Radio 1FM audience consisted of just 200 people and the MTV Unplugged session was slightly larger at 500. The stunning sets included: Father Figure, One More Try, Waiting For That Day and Freedom. He closed the gigs with the up-tempo Star People, which had the audience up on their feet, shouting for more.

In 1996, George was voted Best British Male at both the MTV Europe Awards and at the BRIT awards. And, at that year’s Ivor Novello Awards, he was awarded the prestigious title of Songwriter of The Year, for the third time.

In September of that year, George released a 4 track E.P. entitled, You Have Been Loved. This debuted at number two, making him the first artist in chart history to have six No. 3 singles from one album.

In November 1997, his former record label - Epic - released, If You Were There - the long-awaited collection of Wham!’s Greatest Hits. In December of that year, Virgin Records released a limited edition version of George’s Older album, which contained a bonus disc of six remixed tracks entitled Upper. This was also an exclusive in that it included interactive elements that allowed George’s fans access to his web site, videos and fan club through the internet.

In 1998 Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael was released on Epic Records, as agreed in the Sony settlement in 1995. The album soared to the top of the charts in the week of its release at the beginning of November, and remained at Number 1 for eight weeks, selling over 2 million copies during the notoriously competitive Christmas period. The album featured songs from every era of Michael’s career: from Careless Whisper to three new tracks which included the infamous Outside. The accompanying video had George Michael’s controversial views very clearly stamped on it.

The end of 1998 brought George Michael more accolades. Ladies and Gentlemen… achieved eight times platinum in the UK and also reached number one on the combined European Album Chart. Michael also topped the polls of the 95.8 Capital FM Hall of Fame for a record eighth time. And, in December of that year, George featured in a one-hour Parkinson special, which was screened on BBC 1 to universal critical and public acclaim.

The last year of the decade began with George releasing As, a duet with R&B Diva Mary J Blige, which went on to become a smash hit across Europe. The song was originally written and released by Stevie Wonder on his “Songs in the Key Of Life” album.

October 1999 saw George Michael back on stage. He gave a rare live performance at Wembley Stadium for the NetAid benefit concert. For many in the audience, this was the highlight of the evening. A full gospel choir and 20 dancers joined Michael on stage for classics such as Father Figure and a moving rendition of Brother Can You Spare a Dime? The set opened with a recreation of the Fastlove video as Michael appeared seated in the famous black leather chair with in-built speakers. It closed with the 70,000 strong Wembley Stadium audience singing backing vocals for Freedom 90.

At the close of 1999 George Michael released his fourth solo album, Songs From The Last Century, which featured tracks written by some of the greatest composers of the last 100 years. This retrospective collection included Michael’s haunting versions of My Baby Just Cares For Me, Roxanne, and Brother Can You Spare A Dime? Each of the 11 tracks were co-produced by George Michael and the legendary Phil Ramone.

As a result of pre-orders (in excess of 750,000 in the UK) the album achieved
double platinum status on the day of release, 6th December 1999. Songs From The Last Century went on to be one of the biggest selling albums of the Christmas period throughout Europe and, despite having no singles released from it, remained in the album charts throughout the start of the 21st
Century.

It was quite a decade.

2000 onwards

George Michael kicked off the New Millennium by giving two live performances at international Charity benefit concerts during the beginning of 2000. Equality Rocks took place in the USA, whilst Modena in Italy was the venue for the Pavarotti and Friends Concert.

June 2000 saw the release of the duet If I Told You That with Whitney Houston. Released on Arista records, it was a massive hit, spending many weeks at Number 1 on the combined European Airplay Chart. The single was taken from Houston’s Greatest Hits album.

Towards the end of 2001, George Michael signed an unprecedented deal with Universal Music as it was for two singles only: Freeek! and Shoot the Dog.

The single Freeek! was released on Polydor Records in March 2002. The track, Michael’s first self penned single in three years, was accompanied by a video that pushed the boundaries in every sense. Directed by the famed Joseph Kahn, the post-production effects were added by some of Hollywood’s leading experts. The result perfectly complimented the song and was a visual masterpiece, having more in common with a feature film than a promotional music video. Freeek! was granted it’s own TV World Premiere on Channel 4 in the UK and was then premiered on primetime television in other countries around the World.

Freeek!, the first single from George’s new album, was an International hit, charting at number 1 in six countries and entering the Top Ten of a further eight European countries.

In July 2002, George followed Freeek! with the satirical (some would say controversial) single Shoot the Dog. This was accompanied by a video animated by the team behind the popular TV show 2DTV.

Late in 2003 George Michael re-signed to Sony Music and in 2004, he released the uplifting single Amazing, which was a top five hit in the UK and throughout the world.

Patience, George’s first album of original material for eight years, jetted straight in at number 1 in the UK, breaking George’s own personal record for first week sales. Patience has continued to hit the No.1 spot around the globe from Germany to Hong Kong. It was released in the USA in May 2004.

While he was recording and promoting Patience, George also made his critically-acclaimed documentary, A Different Story. Screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2005 and at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in May 2005, it was released worldwide in December of that year.

Now, at 43 years of age, and with 25 years in the music industry under his belt, George Michael can look back at an illustrious career that is still going strong. He has more than 80 million record sales worldwide, and has notched up six US number 1 singles (from Faith) and eleven British number 1 singles. Michael has also played at some of the biggest and most important concerts in history, including Live Aid, the Nelson Mandela Freedom Concert, the Freddie Mercury Tribute, NetAid and Live 8, all in front of capacity live audiences as well as many millions watching throughout the world.

A singer/songwriter of outstanding ability, George Michael’s artistry has spanned almost three decades and caught the imagination of the entire pop world. As the history of popular music develops, one fact shines through: talent wins out in the end. In the music industry, you can’t cheat and survive for any length of time. You can’t rely on hype to fool people (not for long, anyway) and you can’t hide behind the image-makers or alluring videos, or the cut of the latest seasons clothes. All that is ephemeral. To survive you must evolve, improve, have faith, still thrill. Longevity depends on making the best music - the sort of music that George Michael has been recording for 25 years. And it’s our guess that he’ll still be making outstanding music for many more years to come.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

George Michael has been British pop royalty ever since he took the charts by storm with Wham! in 1982, and since then he has gone on to establish himself as one of the UK’s most respected singer/songwriters. As well as his chart-topping success with Wham! he has been a solo star for over 20 years, achieving huge international success and selling over 80 million records along the way. Michael is also the Most Played Artist on British radio over the last 20 years.

But George Michael has never thought of popular music as just a career; it’s far more personal - and precious - than that. He has always taken the long-term view that, ultimately, an artist’s achievement should not be judged merely in terms of their number one singles, their magazine covers or even their prestigious awards. Rather, they should be judged on a larger body of work, a lifetime’s development reflected in a collection of albums produced over a period of time, and in an art-form (true to a singer’s heart) that has no dependency on shock, rebellion or gimmicks to make its mark.

George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on 25 June 1963 in North London. When the Panayiotou family later moved to Bushey in Hertfordshire, George went on to meet his future Wham! partner - Andrew Ridgeley - at the local comprehensive school.
The 1980s

George and Andrew formed their first band, The Executive, in 1981, but soon realised their chosen path lay as a duo. Wham! was born at the beginning of 1982 and within a year they had released their classic debut single, Wham Rap. However, it was their second single, Young Guns (Go For It!) that became the first in a string of Top 10 hits for the group.

In the summer of 1984 George unveiled a glimpse of what was to come by releasing the classic Careless Whisper, his first solo single while still with Wham! It became one of the signature songs of the Eighties as well as one of the most-played radio songs of the decade - and it was written when he was still only 17.

His growing maturity was further established with the release of A Different Corner, his second solo single, and another mature ballad of note. A few months later George and Andrew decided that Wham! would disband while still at the very peak of their success. This announcement was followed by a unique final concert at Wembley in 1986, an emotional farewell in front of 72,000 fans. Their place was assured as one of the most exuberant pop bands of the Eighties. That George Michael was set for a remarkable solo career was also a certainty.

In 1987 George became the first white male vocalist ever to duet with soul legend, Aretha Franklin. The result, I Knew You Were Waiting, shot straight to the top of the charts worldwide and started off a year that saw George jetting between London and Denmark, where he recorded tracks for his outstanding (and now iconic) debut album Faith.

The album, released in November 1987, revealed George Michael to be one of the finest songwriters of the decade. When the album went to No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic (with worldwide sales approaching 15 million) the pop world sat up and took notice - and a whole new audience was guaranteed.

Faith received a Grammy for the Best Album of 1988, and won George two Ivor Novello Awards for Songwriter Of The Year and International Hit Of The Year (for the title single from the album). George also won American Music Awards for Favourite Male Vocalist (pop/rock), Favourite Male Artist (soul/R&B) and Favourite Album (soul/R&B).

In America, the outstanding success of Faith was marked by six No.1 singles, including: I Want Your Sex; Father Figure; One More Try and Kissing A Fool.

The live 'Faith' tour followed in February 1988, taking the hits package to a momentous opening date at Tokyo's Budokan Stadium, and then on to ecstatic audiences in Australia, Europe and North America. In June, George interrupted the tour to sing three songs at Wembley Stadium's Nelson Mandela Freedom Concert.

The 1990s

By September 1990 George had gathered together a new body of work for the album Listen Without Prejudice: Vol.1 - and another new direction was visible from the first single, Praying For Time. Much of the album had a raw, stripped-down feel, and drew heavily from classic Sixties tracks, black rhythm and jazz moods. Mostly they were personal, increasingly philosophical songs; once again they went against the prevailing chart trends.

His videos during this period created new waves too: it was almost unheard of for an artist of his stature not to appear centre-stage, but for Freedom 90, he found other stars (notably the super-models) Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. This was the first time they had been seen together away from the catwalks, and it was an attraction no one was able to resist thereafter.

The album was another British No.1, and also spawned the hit singles Waiting For That Day, Heal The Pain and Cowboys and Angels. Still only in his twenties, Michael was already being classed alongside those artists he admired most, and with whom he had the honour of dueting: Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. He also brought out an autobiography to coincide with the new album, Bare, (co-written with Tony Parsons), and was granted a UK television special - the ultimate cultural sign of arrival.

In November 1991 George released Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, a duet with Elton John, from one of George's Wembley concerts. The song was another No.1 hit worldwide, and all proceeds went to the AIDS hospice, London Lighthouse and the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity.

A few months later George was in the charts once more with Too Funky, a single from the Red Hot and Dance AIDS charity album, which included a collection of remixed hits by artists such as Madonna and Seal as well as three brand new George Michael songs - the only new songs on the album.
This single went on to become Europe's most played record of 1992, helped partly by the accompanying video, directed by George and styled by designer Thierry Mugler.

Early in 1993 George spent three weeks at the top of the charts with the Five Live EP, which featured duets with Queen and Lisa Stansfield. These tracks were from the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and from Michael’s own ‘Cover To Cover’ tour in 1991. All proceeds went to the Freddie Mercury Phoenix Trust.

In October 1993, in a bold statement that made headlines worldwide, George appeared in court against his record company, Sony Music Entertainment. It was an attempt to break free from a company that, he claimed, no longer accepted his musical direction. Nine months later, the judge found in favour of the record company. An appeal was issued, and was due to be heard in 1996.

On 1st December 1993, (World AIDS Day), George played a benefit concert in front of the late Diana, Princess Of Wales. This 'Concert Of Hope', which also featured KD Lang and Mick Hucknall, was televised worldwide, doing much to raise funds as well as an awareness of the disease.

Towards the end of 1994 Michael performed a new song on the first MTV European Music Awards, in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Jesus To A Child was the first new George Michael song that the huge television audience had heard for almost three years, and it was met with universal acclaim.

Undeterred by the fact that he still wasn't able to release any new material (because of his pending court case with Sony,) Careless Whisper was voted (in January 1995) as Londoner’s favourite record of all time, in a competition run jointly by the capital's leading evening newspaper and its most-listened to radio station. Michael was then voted Best Male Singer by the same radio station, and by the readers of a national newspaper. In April 1996, George won the Capital Radio award for 'Best Male Singer' once more and was also honoured with an 'Outstanding Contribution To Music' award.

By July 1995, after many months of negotiations, it was agreed that Michael would leave Sony and sign two new deals, one with Virgin Records for the World (excluding the United States) and the other with Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg's newly formed SKG Music in North America.

George's first album for Virgin Records, Older, was released on 13 May 1996.
Written, arranged and produced by George Michael, the album was recorded in London and featured 11 brand new tracks including the huge international hits: Jesus To A Child, Fastlove, and Spinning The Wheel.

The video for Fastlove picked up the 'MTV Europe International Viewers Choice Award' at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York in September 1996.

At the beginning of October 1996, George performed his first live shows for five years with a gig for Radio 1FM followed by an Unplugged Session for MTV. Although these two concerts were attended by the smallest audiences that George had ever played to, he claims they were two of his most enjoyable, due to their intimacy. The Radio 1FM audience consisted of just 200 people and the MTV Unplugged session was slightly larger at 500. The stunning sets included: Father Figure, One More Try, Waiting For That Day and Freedom. He closed the gigs with the up-tempo Star People, which had the audience up on their feet, shouting for more.

In 1996, George was voted Best British Male at both the MTV Europe Awards and at the BRIT awards. And, at that year’s Ivor Novello Awards, he was awarded the prestigious title of Songwriter of The Year, for the third time.

In September of that year, George released a 4 track E.P. entitled, You Have Been Loved. This debuted at number two, making him the first artist in chart history to have six No. 3 singles from one album.

In November 1997, his former record label - Epic - released, If You Were There - the long-awaited collection of Wham!’s Greatest Hits. In December of that year, Virgin Records released a limited edition version of George’s Older album, which contained a bonus disc of six remixed tracks entitled Upper. This was also an exclusive in that it included interactive elements that allowed George’s fans access to his web site, videos and fan club through the internet.

In 1998 Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael was released on Epic Records, as agreed in the Sony settlement in 1995. The album soared to the top of the charts in the week of its release at the beginning of November, and remained at Number 1 for eight weeks, selling over 2 million copies during the notoriously competitive Christmas period. The album featured songs from every era of Michael’s career: from Careless Whisper to three new tracks which included the infamous Outside. The accompanying video had George Michael’s controversial views very clearly stamped on it.

The end of 1998 brought George Michael more accolades. Ladies and Gentlemen… achieved eight times platinum in the UK and also reached number one on the combined European Album Chart. Michael also topped the polls of the 95.8 Capital FM Hall of Fame for a record eighth time. And, in December of that year, George featured in a one-hour Parkinson special, which was screened on BBC 1 to universal critical and public acclaim.

The last year of the decade began with George releasing As, a duet with R&B Diva Mary J Blige, which went on to become a smash hit across Europe. The song was originally written and released by Stevie Wonder on his “Songs in the Key Of Life” album.

October 1999 saw George Michael back on stage. He gave a rare live performance at Wembley Stadium for the NetAid benefit concert. For many in the audience, this was the highlight of the evening. A full gospel choir and 20 dancers joined Michael on stage for classics such as Father Figure and a moving rendition of Brother Can You Spare a Dime? The set opened with a recreation of the Fastlove video as Michael appeared seated in the famous black leather chair with in-built speakers. It closed with the 70,000 strong Wembley Stadium audience singing backing vocals for Freedom 90.

At the close of 1999 George Michael released his fourth solo album, Songs From The Last Century, which featured tracks written by some of the greatest composers of the last 100 years. This retrospective collection included Michael’s haunting versions of My Baby Just Cares For Me, Roxanne, and Brother Can You Spare A Dime? Each of the 11 tracks were co-produced by George Michael and the legendary Phil Ramone.

As a result of pre-orders (in excess of 750,000 in the UK) the album achieved
double platinum status on the day of release, 6th December 1999. Songs From The Last Century went on to be one of the biggest selling albums of the Christmas period throughout Europe and, despite having no singles released from it, remained in the album charts throughout the start of the 21st
Century.

It was quite a decade.

2000 onwards

George Michael kicked off the New Millennium by giving two live performances at international Charity benefit concerts during the beginning of 2000. Equality Rocks took place in the USA, whilst Modena in Italy was the venue for the Pavarotti and Friends Concert.

June 2000 saw the release of the duet If I Told You That with Whitney Houston. Released on Arista records, it was a massive hit, spending many weeks at Number 1 on the combined European Airplay Chart. The single was taken from Houston’s Greatest Hits album.

Towards the end of 2001, George Michael signed an unprecedented deal with Universal Music as it was for two singles only: Freeek! and Shoot the Dog.

The single Freeek! was released on Polydor Records in March 2002. The track, Michael’s first self penned single in three years, was accompanied by a video that pushed the boundaries in every sense. Directed by the famed Joseph Kahn, the post-production effects were added by some of Hollywood’s leading experts. The result perfectly complimented the song and was a visual masterpiece, having more in common with a feature film than a promotional music video. Freeek! was granted it’s own TV World Premiere on Channel 4 in the UK and was then premiered on primetime television in other countries around the World.

Freeek!, the first single from George’s new album, was an International hit, charting at number 1 in six countries and entering the Top Ten of a further eight European countries.

In July 2002, George followed Freeek! with the satirical (some would say controversial) single Shoot the Dog. This was accompanied by a video animated by the team behind the popular TV show 2DTV.

Late in 2003 George Michael re-signed to Sony Music and in 2004, he released the uplifting single Amazing, which was a top five hit in the UK and throughout the world.

Patience, George’s first album of original material for eight years, jetted straight in at number 1 in the UK, breaking George’s own personal record for first week sales. Patience has continued to hit the No.1 spot around the globe from Germany to Hong Kong. It was released in the USA in May 2004.

While he was recording and promoting Patience, George also made his critically-acclaimed documentary, A Different Story. Screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2005 and at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in May 2005, it was released worldwide in December of that year.

Now, at 43 years of age, and with 25 years in the music industry under his belt, George Michael can look back at an illustrious career that is still going strong. He has more than 80 million record sales worldwide, and has notched up six US number 1 singles (from Faith) and eleven British number 1 singles. Michael has also played at some of the biggest and most important concerts in history, including Live Aid, the Nelson Mandela Freedom Concert, the Freddie Mercury Tribute, NetAid and Live 8, all in front of capacity live audiences as well as many millions watching throughout the world.

A singer/songwriter of outstanding ability, George Michael’s artistry has spanned almost three decades and caught the imagination of the entire pop world. As the history of popular music develops, one fact shines through: talent wins out in the end. In the music industry, you can’t cheat and survive for any length of time. You can’t rely on hype to fool people (not for long, anyway) and you can’t hide behind the image-makers or alluring videos, or the cut of the latest seasons clothes. All that is ephemeral. To survive you must evolve, improve, have faith, still thrill. Longevity depends on making the best music - the sort of music that George Michael has been recording for 25 years. And it’s our guess that he’ll still be making outstanding music for many more years to come.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

George Michael has been British pop royalty ever since he took the charts by storm with Wham! in 1982, and since then he has gone on to establish himself as one of the UK’s most respected singer/songwriters. As well as his chart-topping success with Wham! he has been a solo star for over 20 years, achieving huge international success and selling over 80 million records along the way. Michael is also the Most Played Artist on British radio over the last 20 years.

But George Michael has never thought of popular music as just a career; it’s far more personal - and precious - than that. He has always taken the long-term view that, ultimately, an artist’s achievement should not be judged merely in terms of their number one singles, their magazine covers or even their prestigious awards. Rather, they should be judged on a larger body of work, a lifetime’s development reflected in a collection of albums produced over a period of time, and in an art-form (true to a singer’s heart) that has no dependency on shock, rebellion or gimmicks to make its mark.

George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on 25 June 1963 in North London. When the Panayiotou family later moved to Bushey in Hertfordshire, George went on to meet his future Wham! partner - Andrew Ridgeley - at the local comprehensive school.
The 1980s

George and Andrew formed their first band, The Executive, in 1981, but soon realised their chosen path lay as a duo. Wham! was born at the beginning of 1982 and within a year they had released their classic debut single, Wham Rap. However, it was their second single, Young Guns (Go For It!) that became the first in a string of Top 10 hits for the group.

In the summer of 1984 George unveiled a glimpse of what was to come by releasing the classic Careless Whisper, his first solo single while still with Wham! It became one of the signature songs of the Eighties as well as one of the most-played radio songs of the decade - and it was written when he was still only 17.

His growing maturity was further established with the release of A Different Corner, his second solo single, and another mature ballad of note. A few months later George and Andrew decided that Wham! would disband while still at the very peak of their success. This announcement was followed by a unique final concert at Wembley in 1986, an emotional farewell in front of 72,000 fans. Their place was assured as one of the most exuberant pop bands of the Eighties. That George Michael was set for a remarkable solo career was also a certainty.

In 1987 George became the first white male vocalist ever to duet with soul legend, Aretha Franklin. The result, I Knew You Were Waiting, shot straight to the top of the charts worldwide and started off a year that saw George jetting between London and Denmark, where he recorded tracks for his outstanding (and now iconic) debut album Faith.

The album, released in November 1987, revealed George Michael to be one of the finest songwriters of the decade. When the album went to No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic (with worldwide sales approaching 15 million) the pop world sat up and took notice - and a whole new audience was guaranteed.

Faith received a Grammy for the Best Album of 1988, and won George two Ivor Novello Awards for Songwriter Of The Year and International Hit Of The Year (for the title single from the album). George also won American Music Awards for Favourite Male Vocalist (pop/rock), Favourite Male Artist (soul/R&B) and Favourite Album (soul/R&B).

In America, the outstanding success of Faith was marked by six No.1 singles, including: I Want Your Sex; Father Figure; One More Try and Kissing A Fool.

The live 'Faith' tour followed in February 1988, taking the hits package to a momentous opening date at Tokyo's Budokan Stadium, and then on to ecstatic audiences in Australia, Europe and North America. In June, George interrupted the tour to sing three songs at Wembley Stadium's Nelson Mandela Freedom Concert.

The 1990s

By September 1990 George had gathered together a new body of work for the album Listen Without Prejudice: Vol.1 - and another new direction was visible from the first single, Praying For Time. Much of the album had a raw, stripped-down feel, and drew heavily from classic Sixties tracks, black rhythm and jazz moods. Mostly they were personal, increasingly philosophical songs; once again they went against the prevailing chart trends.

His videos during this period created new waves too: it was almost unheard of for an artist of his stature not to appear centre-stage, but for Freedom 90, he found other stars (notably the super-models) Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. This was the first time they had been seen together away from the catwalks, and it was an attraction no one was able to resist thereafter.

The album was another British No.1, and also spawned the hit singles Waiting For That Day, Heal The Pain and Cowboys and Angels. Still only in his twenties, Michael was already being classed alongside those artists he admired most, and with whom he had the honour of dueting: Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. He also brought out an autobiography to coincide with the new album, Bare, (co-written with Tony Parsons), and was granted a UK television special - the ultimate cultural sign of arrival.

In November 1991 George released Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, a duet with Elton John, from one of George's Wembley concerts. The song was another No.1 hit worldwide, and all proceeds went to the AIDS hospice, London Lighthouse and the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity.

A few months later George was in the charts once more with Too Funky, a single from the Red Hot and Dance AIDS charity album, which included a collection of remixed hits by artists such as Madonna and Seal as well as three brand new George Michael songs - the only new songs on the album.
This single went on to become Europe's most played record of 1992, helped partly by the accompanying video, directed by George and styled by designer Thierry Mugler.

Early in 1993 George spent three weeks at the top of the charts with the Five Live EP, which featured duets with Queen and Lisa Stansfield. These tracks were from the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and from Michael’s own ‘Cover To Cover’ tour in 1991. All proceeds went to the Freddie Mercury Phoenix Trust.

In October 1993, in a bold statement that made headlines worldwide, George appeared in court against his record company, Sony Music Entertainment. It was an attempt to break free from a company that, he claimed, no longer accepted his musical direction. Nine months later, the judge found in favour of the record company. An appeal was issued, and was due to be heard in 1996.

On 1st December 1993, (World AIDS Day), George played a benefit concert in front of the late Diana, Princess Of Wales. This 'Concert Of Hope', which also featured KD Lang and Mick Hucknall, was televised worldwide, doing much to raise funds as well as an awareness of the disease.

Towards the end of 1994 Michael performed a new song on the first MTV European Music Awards, in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Jesus To A Child was the first new George Michael song that the huge television audience had heard for almost three years, and it was met with universal acclaim.

Undeterred by the fact that he still wasn't able to release any new material (because of his pending court case with Sony,) Careless Whisper was voted (in January 1995) as Londoner’s favourite record of all time, in a competition run jointly by the capital's leading evening newspaper and its most-listened to radio station. Michael was then voted Best Male Singer by the same radio station, and by the readers of a national newspaper. In April 1996, George won the Capital Radio award for 'Best Male Singer' once more and was also honoured with an 'Outstanding Contribution To Music' award.

By July 1995, after many months of negotiations, it was agreed that Michael would leave Sony and sign two new deals, one with Virgin Records for the World (excluding the United States) and the other with Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg's newly formed SKG Music in North America.

George's first album for Virgin Records, Older, was released on 13 May 1996.
Written, arranged and produced by George Michael, the album was recorded in London and featured 11 brand new tracks including the huge international hits: Jesus To A Child, Fastlove, and Spinning The Wheel.

The video for Fastlove picked up the 'MTV Europe International Viewers Choice Award' at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York in September 1996.

At the beginning of October 1996, George performed his first live shows for five years with a gig for Radio 1FM followed by an Unplugged Session for MTV. Although these two concerts were attended by the smallest audiences that George had ever played to, he claims they were two of his most enjoyable, due to their intimacy. The Radio 1FM audience consisted of just 200 people and the MTV Unplugged session was slightly larger at 500. The stunning sets included: Father Figure, One More Try, Waiting For That Day and Freedom. He closed the gigs with the up-tempo Star People, which had the audience up on their feet, shouting for more.

In 1996, George was voted Best British Male at both the MTV Europe Awards and at the BRIT awards. And, at that year’s Ivor Novello Awards, he was awarded the prestigious title of Songwriter of The Year, for the third time.

In September of that year, George released a 4 track E.P. entitled, You Have Been Loved. This debuted at number two, making him the first artist in chart history to have six No. 3 singles from one album.

In November 1997, his former record label - Epic - released, If You Were There - the long-awaited collection of Wham!’s Greatest Hits. In December of that year, Virgin Records released a limited edition version of George’s Older album, which contained a bonus disc of six remixed tracks entitled Upper. This was also an exclusive in that it included interactive elements that allowed George’s fans access to his web site, videos and fan club through the internet.

In 1998 Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael was released on Epic Records, as agreed in the Sony settlement in 1995. The album soared to the top of the charts in the week of its release at the beginning of November, and remained at Number 1 for eight weeks, selling over 2 million copies during the notoriously competitive Christmas period. The album featured songs from every era of Michael’s career: from Careless Whisper to three new tracks which included the infamous Outside. The accompanying video had George Michael’s controversial views very clearly stamped on it.

The end of 1998 brought George Michael more accolades. Ladies and Gentlemen… achieved eight times platinum in the UK and also reached number one on the combined European Album Chart. Michael also topped the polls of the 95.8 Capital FM Hall of Fame for a record eighth time. And, in December of that year, George featured in a one-hour Parkinson special, which was screened on BBC 1 to universal critical and public acclaim.

The last year of the decade began with George releasing As, a duet with R&B Diva Mary J Blige, which went on to become a smash hit across Europe. The song was originally written and released by Stevie Wonder on his “Songs in the Key Of Life” album.

October 1999 saw George Michael back on stage. He gave a rare live performance at Wembley Stadium for the NetAid benefit concert. For many in the audience, this was the highlight of the evening. A full gospel choir and 20 dancers joined Michael on stage for classics such as Father Figure and a moving rendition of Brother Can You Spare a Dime? The set opened with a recreation of the Fastlove video as Michael appeared seated in the famous black leather chair with in-built speakers. It closed with the 70,000 strong Wembley Stadium audience singing backing vocals for Freedom 90.

At the close of 1999 George Michael released his fourth solo album, Songs From The Last Century, which featured tracks written by some of the greatest composers of the last 100 years. This retrospective collection included Michael’s haunting versions of My Baby Just Cares For Me, Roxanne, and Brother Can You Spare A Dime? Each of the 11 tracks were co-produced by George Michael and the legendary Phil Ramone.

As a result of pre-orders (in excess of 750,000 in the UK) the album achieved
double platinum status on the day of release, 6th December 1999. Songs From The Last Century went on to be one of the biggest selling albums of the Christmas period throughout Europe and, despite having no singles released from it, remained in the album charts throughout the start of the 21st
Century.

It was quite a decade.

2000 onwards

George Michael kicked off the New Millennium by giving two live performances at international Charity benefit concerts during the beginning of 2000. Equality Rocks took place in the USA, whilst Modena in Italy was the venue for the Pavarotti and Friends Concert.

June 2000 saw the release of the duet If I Told You That with Whitney Houston. Released on Arista records, it was a massive hit, spending many weeks at Number 1 on the combined European Airplay Chart. The single was taken from Houston’s Greatest Hits album.

Towards the end of 2001, George Michael signed an unprecedented deal with Universal Music as it was for two singles only: Freeek! and Shoot the Dog.

The single Freeek! was released on Polydor Records in March 2002. The track, Michael’s first self penned single in three years, was accompanied by a video that pushed the boundaries in every sense. Directed by the famed Joseph Kahn, the post-production effects were added by some of Hollywood’s leading experts. The result perfectly complimented the song and was a visual masterpiece, having more in common with a feature film than a promotional music video. Freeek! was granted it’s own TV World Premiere on Channel 4 in the UK and was then premiered on primetime television in other countries around the World.

Freeek!, the first single from George’s new album, was an International hit, charting at number 1 in six countries and entering the Top Ten of a further eight European countries.

In July 2002, George followed Freeek! with the satirical (some would say controversial) single Shoot the Dog. This was accompanied by a video animated by the team behind the popular TV show 2DTV.

Late in 2003 George Michael re-signed to Sony Music and in 2004, he released the uplifting single Amazing, which was a top five hit in the UK and throughout the world.

Patience, George’s first album of original material for eight years, jetted straight in at number 1 in the UK, breaking George’s own personal record for first week sales. Patience has continued to hit the No.1 spot around the globe from Germany to Hong Kong. It was released in the USA in May 2004.

While he was recording and promoting Patience, George also made his critically-acclaimed documentary, A Different Story. Screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2005 and at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in May 2005, it was released worldwide in December of that year.

Now, at 43 years of age, and with 25 years in the music industry under his belt, George Michael can look back at an illustrious career that is still going strong. He has more than 80 million record sales worldwide, and has notched up six US number 1 singles (from Faith) and eleven British number 1 singles. Michael has also played at some of the biggest and most important concerts in history, including Live Aid, the Nelson Mandela Freedom Concert, the Freddie Mercury Tribute, NetAid and Live 8, all in front of capacity live audiences as well as many millions watching throughout the world.

A singer/songwriter of outstanding ability, George Michael’s artistry has spanned almost three decades and caught the imagination of the entire pop world. As the history of popular music develops, one fact shines through: talent wins out in the end. In the music industry, you can’t cheat and survive for any length of time. You can’t rely on hype to fool people (not for long, anyway) and you can’t hide behind the image-makers or alluring videos, or the cut of the latest seasons clothes. All that is ephemeral. To survive you must evolve, improve, have faith, still thrill. Longevity depends on making the best music - the sort of music that George Michael has been recording for 25 years. And it’s our guess that he’ll still be making outstanding music for many more years to come.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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