I didn’t hear it on the radio. Nor did I see it on TV. Funnily enough, I read about it when someone on instagram posted about it. Georgios Kyriakos Panagiotou, better known to millions as George Michael, passed away. Gone. Just like that. His „last Christmas“, so to speak. What a time to leave this world, eh? Talk about making an exit.
My relationship with George Michael has always been a bit of an „up-and-down“ affair. When Wham! entered the scene back in the day, I was listening to much more „arty farty“ stuff such as Bauhaus, Bowie etc. My friends and I used to make fun of those „extremely tarty Wham!Boys„. Turned out we weren’t wrong after all…
Anyways, it wasn’t until Wham! split up and the other bloke (Andrew Ridgley, if my memory serves me well) went on to be a racing driver or something, that I actually bought and listened to one of their records. Yes, an LP, a record, a big black vinyl disc, that’s how long ago it was. It was the farewell album with all the top hits by the talented one and his sidekick. And to be honest, I actually liked the album. It wasn’t Ziggy Stardust and it wasn’t trying to be: pure fun-to-listen-to pop at its best. Of course, „Careless Whisper“ went on to become a classic. Well deserved, I might add.
The singles Mr. Michael released over the next few years were all OK, the Videos to go with them were a lot better. None of the songs really found their way into my playlist. The look he had back then with the old leather jacket, BSA logo, jeans, 5 O‘ Clock Shadow and the quiff…really was quite cool. But it was nothing to write home about. At least, not for me.
The next chapter began when he released the „Older“ album.
Now this was something new and something I could listen to. And the fact that George did almost all the writing and recording himself instantly put him in the top 10 of my list of respected musicians, along with the likes of Midge Ure (I have been a Midge Ure fan since the Ultravox days and still follow Mr. Ure’s activities like a fan-boy ;0)
There came some scandals, most notoriously the episode concerning the public toilets, but this did little to change my new-found appreciation for the man.
I even covered several of his better known songs during my time with the Cover Band „Al & Chris“ and (if I do say so myself) performed quite a good rendition of „Don’t let the sun go down on me„.
So whilst this hasn’t really knocked me off my feet, it still is sad and I feel a little „Older“ myself now as, one by one, the majority of the 80’s icons are leaving this world, off to form a great band up in the sky I suppose.
Farewell, Mr. Michael. Your music will be missed. But fear not! Every Christmas for the next few years will be announced by your song „Last Christmas“ calling out from radio receivers across the globe. Truly immortal.