George Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25, 1963, made a massive impact on the music industry since the release of his first album with his duo partner, Andrew Ridgeley. The pop duo’s first two albums were hugely successful and reached number one on the U.K. Albums Chart in 1983 and 1984. Michael began his solo career with his first single, ‘Careless Whisper,’ in 1984, and released his first solo album in 1987 called “Faith,” which made him the winner of the ‘Album of the Year’ award at the 1989 Grammy Awards. With plenty of singles, albums, and duet’s released, the legendary music star was the most played artist on British radio from 1984 till 2004. We celebrate his birthday and his life here.
Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou
June 25, 1963
December 25, 2016 (age 53)
George Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, made a massive impact on the music industry throughout the 1980s, and his music still lives on today. Michael was born on June 25, 1963, in East Finchley, North London. His music career started in 1981, at the young age of 18 years old, with his schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley. The two friends attended the same school as teenagers in Radlett — a village in England — and shared the dreams of becoming musicians. Following their dreams, the duo started Wham!, which became one of the greatest bands of all time since the release of their first album.
The pop duo released their first album in 1983 called “Fantastic” and their second album a year later called “Make It Big.” Both albums successfully reached number one on the U.K. Albums Chart and made the U.S. Billboard 200. Their hit singles were ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,’ which was inspired by a letter that Ridgeley wrote to his parents, and ‘Last Christmas.’
In 1985, Wham! Toured China for the first time, making them the first artists to perform Western music in the country. Michael, however, began doing solo singles outside of Wham! and released his first solo, ‘Careless Whisper,’ in 1984. Although the song was sung by Michael alone, the single was added to the duo’s second album “Make It Big.”
Michael received his first Ivor Novello Award for ‘Songwriter of the Year’ in 1985. Before releasing his first solo album, he released a duet with Aretha Franklin, ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),’ in 1987 and a solo single, ‘A Different Corner,’ in 1986. A year before the release of his solo album, Michael and Ridgeley performed their last song together before separating, called ‘The Edge of Heaven’ in 1986, and in 1987, Michael released his solo album, “Faith,” which topped the U.K. Albums Chart and was number one on the Billboard 200 for 12 consecutive weeks.
His album sold over 20 million copies and won the ‘Album of the Year’ award in 1989. Michael’s second album, “Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1” was released in 1990 and sold eight million copies worldwide. Michael shared that the name of this album was inspired by his desire to be taken more seriously as a songwriter. His second and third albums, “Older” (1996) and “Patience” (2004) were also multimillion-selling albums. In 2004, Michael’s documentary “George Michael: A Different Story” was released and told the story of his personal and career life. In 2008, Michael made an acting debut and appeared in “Eli Stone”— a television series — as the guardian angel of Jonny Lee Miller’s character.
During his music career, the legendary artist sold over 120 million records worldwide, performed various concerts, won multiple awards, and was named the most played artist on British radio between the years 1984 to 2004. Michael performed the last concert of his life in 2012 at the Earls Court’ in London. On December 25, 2016, the world woke up to the news of Michael’s death. The star was found by his lover, Fadi Fawaz, in his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
At 18 years old, Michael starts the Wham! pop duo with his schoolmate, Andrew Ridgeley.
The pop duo releases their first album called “Fantastic,” which reaches number one on the U.K. Albums Chart.
He releases his first solo single, ‘Careless Whisper,’ which reaches number one in over 20 countries.
Michael wins his first Ivor Novello Award for ‘Songwriter of the Year.’
Michael releases his first solo album “Faith” which sells over 20 million copies.
Michael wins the ‘Album of the Year’ award for his first solo album.
Michael releases a documentary on his career and personal life called “George Michael: A Different Story.”
Michael performs his final concert in London at the Earls Court.
Why We Love George Michael
He was a supporter of various charities
Michael was commonly known for his involvement in L.G.B.T. rights and HIV/AIDS campaigns. In addition to these, it became known after his death that the artist privately supported various organizations. The profits from Wham!’s hit song, ‘Last Christmas,’ were donated to charity.
His impact on the music industry
Michael had hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide and touched many with his music. His voice and meaningful lyrics live on.
He was open about his sexuality
During a time when bisexuality and homosexuality were globally taboo subjects, Michael announced he was gay. Thereafter, he openly pursued relationships with men.
5 Surprising Facts
He busked on the London Underground
During his youth, Michael would head down to the subway to sing — his favorite song to sing was ‘39’ by Queen.
He was partially color-blind
Michael often wore glasses or contact lenses to help his color-blindness, which caused him to struggle to differentiate between certain shapes and figures from a distance.
He had several unique nicknames
Michaels's family and friends gave him various unique nicknames such as Yog, TLTS, which translated to “The Legend That Is,” Knobby, and The Bubble.
He was in a band before Wham!
Michael, Ridgeley, and a few of their friends formed a band called The Executive but it was short-lived.
He once worked as a D.J.
Michael was first exposed to the music industry when he worked as a D.J. at various local clubs and schools during his youth.
George Michael FAQs
What were George Michael's last words?
Michael’s last words on stage were “Thank you London, we love you, see you soon,” at the last concert he performed at Earls Court.
Was George Michael cremated or buried?
Michael was buried in Highgate Cemetery in North London near his mother’s grave.
Who was George Michael’s greatest love?
Anselmo Feleppa was Michael’s greatest love. Unfortunately, he died from AIDS almost a year after they began their relationship.
George Michael’s birthday dates