24 Facts: George Michael

"...keen to swap saliva, Justin?"
"...keen to swap saliva, Justin?"

1. George Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on 25 June 1963 in the UK. Yes, he belongs to Cancer, the air sign. His dad, Kyriacos Panayiotou, was a Greek Cypriot restaurateur and his mum, Lesley Angold Harrison, was an English dancer. His maternal grandmother was Jewish.

2. He met Andrew Ridgeley at school when Ridgeley volunteered to tutor him. They formed a short-lived ska band called The Executive and in 1981 they launched Wham! and big blow-dried hair for guys became fashionable. You know who you are.

3. Their first album, Fantastic scored #1 in the UK. Wham! was the first Western popular music act to tour China ever and their experience is documented in the film Foreign Skies: Wham! In China. Wham!’s second album, Make It Big (1984), made the duo international superstars and the new gods of pop worshipped by millions of teenagers worldwide. Unfortunately, they eventually went bam and called it quits in 1986.

4. In 1984, Michael was part of the first ever Band Aid concert and sang on the charity song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for famine relief in Ethiopia. He is well known for his charity work but has yet to appear on the 46664 bill, we’re waiting George…

5. George Michael kicked off his solo career in 1987 with the Aretha Franklin duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" . The song co-written with Simon Climie of Climie Fisher shot to number 1 in the UK and USA and bagged him a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best R&B Performance.

6. In that same year (1987) Michael released his first solo album, “Faith” which he wrote and produced. "I Want Your Sex" the first single was banned but reached #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It is featured on the 'Beverly Hills Cop II' soundtrack and stars celebrity make-up artist Kathy Jeung. Kathy Jeung went on to become Michael’s girl friend when he cared to dabble in heterosexuality. It’s true!

7. Second single, "Faith," shot to #1 in the USA, and #2 in the UK. The video of him in shades, leather jacket and Levis has become iconic and a definitive image of the 80s music scene and fashion. Hands up on who wore torn jeans from then on.

8. In 1991 while on the Rio leg of his "Cover to Cover Tour" he met and fell in love with audience member Anselmo Feleppa. "Jesus to a Child" (1994) is a tribute to his lover who died in March 1993 of an AIDS-related brain haemorrhage.

9. Michael and Elton John perform “Don’t Let the Sun go down on me” for the first time at Michael's concert in Wembley in 1991. The song was the only #1 scoring single of the modern era to be recorded at an outdoors venue. Proceeds were divided among charities for children, AIDS, and education.

10. "Fastlove" (1996) is written about Michael's brief love affair with city banker Brett Charles whom he met in Kazakhstan and appears on Older (1996), the third studio album of his solo career.

11. Though Kenny Goss has been his partner since 1996, Michael openly admits that he cruises for anonymous sex. He was busted in 1998, by undercover cop Marcelo Rodríguez for soliciting sex in a men’s loo. Naughty Rodriguez sued Michael for US$10 million for defamation but lost the case. Michael hit back with the single "Outside". The video features men dressed as policemen kissing. The incident forced Michael to reveal publicly that he was gay.

12. By this time Michael had released his second album “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” (1990) which he refused to promote igniting his feud with Sony. A third solo album “Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael” followed in 1998 and “Patience” in 2004. He expressed his criticism about the Iraqi War in an animated music video for the single "Shoot the Dog” off this album in which Tony Blair is depicted as the "dog" that follows his "owner" George W. Bush everywhere.

13. His autobiographical film, A Different Story (2005), features artists like Sting, Mariah Carey, Elton John, Noel Gallagher, Simon Cowell, Geri Halliwell, Boy George and Andrew Ridgeley as themselves. Also check out his autobiography titled "Bare" (1991) which he co-wrote with writer Tony Parsons.

14. 2006 passed in a haze with Michael arrested for possession of drugs in February, an incident that he described as "my own stupid fault, as usual." In May he collided with three cars in the street in which he lives. In October of the same year drug induced year his driving license was suspended for two years after being found unconscious in his car and causing an obstruction in a junction. His last arrest was in September 2008, in a London public toilet for possession of drugs.

15. On July 23, 2006 George Michael was again accused of engaging in anonymous public sex, this time at London's West Hampstead Heath Park. The anonymous partner was later discovered to be 58-year-old Norman Kirtland, an unemployed van driver. Sis, man.

16. He received £1.5 million (US$3 million) to perform a 1-hour concert in Moscow for the 300 guests of Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin on the Eve of 2007. Easy money.

17. During 2007, he sent the £1.45 million piano that John Lennon used to write "Imagine" around the United States on a "peace tour," having it on display at places where violence had taken place, such as Dallas' Dealey Plaza where U.S. President John. F. Kennedy was shot.

18. George Michael made his American acting debut (March 2008) by playing a guardian angel to Jonny Lee Miller's character on Eli Stone, a US TV series. He featured as himself and as "visions" and each episode of the show's first season was named after a song of his.

19. He also appeared on the 2008 finale show of American Idol in May singing "Praying for Time". When asked what he thought Simon would say of his performance, he replied "I think he'll probably tell me I shouldn't have done a George Michael song.

20. On December 25, 2008 he released a new track “December Song” on his website for free. The song is not available anymore but can be accessed on file sharing networks (if you’re determined and tech savvy).

21. On June 9, 2009, Michael joined Beyoncé Knowles on stage during "If I Were A Boy" at the last UK show of her world wide tour I Am… Tour.

22. George Michael confessed that he would like to recreate Madonna’s infamous smooch with Britney Spears by swapping saliva with Justine Timberlake. He reportedly said “I’ve already called Justin but unfortunately he hasn’t called back”. There you go JT, if ever you’re in the mood.

23. He has no known children but we believe that Justin Timberlake's his most direct pop ancestor. George is to Justin what Michael Jackson was to Usher (Who’s your father figure?).

24. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide, his debut solo album, Faith(1987) remins the poick of the pack boasting over 20 million copies sold worldwide. Plus four of his five solo studio albums have scored #1 on the UK charts.

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