George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) was a singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist who rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! and later embarked on a solo career.
He was widely known for his work in the 1980s and 1990s, including Wham! singles such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas” and solo albums such as Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990).
Michael achieved seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, including “Careless Whisper”, “Praying for Time” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”. In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.
George Michael ranks among the best-selling British musical acts. In 2008, he was ranked 40th on Billboard’s list of the Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time. He won various music awards throughout his 30-year career.
Michael, who came out as gay in 1998, was an active LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. Michael’s personal life and legal troubles made headlines during the late 1990s and 2000s. In the early hours of 25 December 2016, Michael, aged 53, was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. A coroner’s report attributed his death to natural causes.
Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25, 1963. He grew up in the suburbs of London, the son of a Greek-Cypriot father and an English mother. He and schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley formed Wham in 1982 after playing in various bands together. The duo became an instant success when their debut album, Fantastic, hit No. 1 on the U.K. charts. Throughout their four-year partnership in Wham!, Michael and Ridgeley scored numerous hits on both sides of the Atlantic, including their 1984 breakthrough “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” “Careless Whisper,” “Everything She Wants,” “Freedom” and “I’m Your Man.”
In 1986, after three albums, Michael left Wham for an equally – if not more – successful solo career.
“I was the boy in a Greek family who could do
what he liked from a very early age…”
Is George Michael Greek?
George Michael was half-Greek. His father was Greek-Cypriot and his mother was English.
In his own words about his background from an interview at BBC:
“I have a huge propensity for guilt because I was the boy in a Greek family who could do what he liked from a very early age — and he did. Because the culture was patriarchal and it was to indulge the boy. I have two wonderful sisters who never got their way as young Greek girls, obviously. I grew up with his terrible guilt. I had feelings of guilt as a small child, knowing that I was the one who was going to get the easy ride.”