Wham!

wham_5Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael (real name Georgios Panayiotou) met at school in Bushey, Hertfordshire, in the 1970s and played together in a ska band called The Executive for a while.

As Wham! they became huge stars and churned out disposable pop such as Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – as well as 1984’s ultimate fashion statement, the “Choose Life” T-Shirt.

But they provided more than just an image of gleaming cleanliness – they gave a generation of multicultural youths their first real ‘it’s hip to be hirsute’ role models. Wham! were without doubt the biggest British act of summer 1983.

Their album Fantastic stormed into the UK charts at Number 1 in July as the boys started their first major tour (sponsored by a sportswear company).

George Michael won the Daily Mirror readers’ award for ‘Best Bottom of 84’ and was then parodied mercilessly (along with partner Andrew Ridgeley) as a pair of singing shorts-clad buttocks, on the TV show Spitting Image.

In April 1985, Wham! became the first western pop act to play in China, where they performed in front of 10,000 people at the Worker’s Gymnasium in Beijing.

Back in the capitalist west, their album Make It Big lived up to its title by topping the UK and US charts simultaneously, selling three million copies in the States.

Fourteen months later, 72,000 fans poured into London’s Wembley Stadium to say goodbye to Messrs Panayiotou and Ridgeley as Wham! played their farewell concert.

George Michael released his first solo album in November 1987. Faith was an impressive debut from Michael, who produced and played many of the instruments on the album himself.

It was obvious that the former Georgios Panayioto had gone firmly for credibility since leaving his pal behind, and quickly established himself as a sophisticated singer and songwriter

Andrew Ridgeley’s solo career consisted of one album called Son Of Albert. He married Keren Woodward from Bananarama and occupied his time racing cars and surfing in Cornwall.

Wham Bam – I am a man
Job or no job, you can’t tell me that I’m not
Do you enjoy what you do?
If not just stop – Don’t stay there and rot