Updated: Jan 16
The Duke Of POP created soulful harmonies, with infectious hooks, and dapper swagger.
A Cowboy & an Angel, George Micheal will be a POP ROYALTY legend forever.
Lyrics: I won't let you down I will not give you up Gotta have some faith in the sound It's the one good thing that I've got I won't let you down So please don't give me up Because I would really, really love to stick around!
George Michael 1963-2016
George’s unexpected death on Christmas Day 2016 resulted in an outpouring of grief across the globe. And then there was the music he left us, both as half of Wham! alongside Andrew Ridgeley and as a groundbreaking, globe-conquering solo superstar. As the world knew, George made special music, searingly honest, expertly crafted, but always full of heart, soul and passion; music that will last for decades to come.
Since he entered our lives in 1982 with the ground-breaking slice of exuberance that was ‘Wham! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)’, George Michael sold over 120 million albums. He topped charts from Austria to Australia. He sold-out stadiums from Tokyo to Tampa. He re-defined popular music with ‘Faith’, his debut solo album of 1987 and he subsequently crafted a substantial, enormously popular body of work.
Perhaps, though, the real starting point is Radlett, a commuter town of 60,000 souls, north-west of London, where some scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange were filmed. It’s where young Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (born 25 June 1963) and his loving, tightly bound, part-Greek-Cypriot, part-English family moved from their original North London home. Like teenagers the world over, George and his best friend, fellow Bushey Meads Comprehensive pupil Andrew Ridgeley, would dream of pop stardom, of making it big: “I wanted to be loved,” admitted George. “It was an ego satisfaction thing”. Deep down, the pair of dreamers understood that it wasn’t going to happen. These things just didn’t happen.
George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou; 25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016) was an English singer, songwriter and record producer. Known as a leading creative force in music production, songwriting, vocal performance and visual presentation, he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the MTV era.
Born in East Finchley, North London, Michael rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! and later embarked on a solo career. Forming the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981, the band's first two albums, Fantastic (1983) and Make It Big (1984), reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. Their hit singles included "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Last Christmas". Establishing themselves as a global act, Wham! toured China in April 1985; the tour was the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, and it generated worldwide media coverage.
Michael's first solo single, "Careless Whisper", reached number one in over 20 countries, including the UK and US. Before embarking on the production of his first solo album, Michael went on to release two more number-one singles, "A Different Corner" and the Aretha Franklin duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". Michael's debut solo album, Faith, was released in 1987, topping the UK Albums Chart and staying at number one on the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks. Globally it sold 25 million copies, and four singles from the album—"Faith", "Father Figure", "One More Try", and "Monkey"—reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Michael became the best-selling music artist of 1988, and Faith was awarded Album of the Year at the 1989 Grammy Awards. His second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1(1990), sold approximately eight million copies and was a UK number-one. It included the Billboard Hot 100 number-one "Praying for Time" and the worldwide hit "Freedom! '90". A 1991 live duet with Elton John, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", was also a transatlantic number one. Michael went on to release two more multimillion-selling albums, Older (1996) and Patience (2004).
Michael came out as gay in 1998. He was an active LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. Michael's personal life, drug use, and legal troubles made headlines during the late 1990s and 2000s, as he was arrested for public lewdness in 1998 and was arrested for multiple drug-related offences after that time. The 2005 documentary A Different Story covered his career and personal life. Michael's 25 Live tour spanned three tours from 2006 to 2008. Michael fell into a coma in 2011 during a bout with pneumonia, but later recovered. He performed his final concert at London's Earls Court in 2012. On 25 December 2016, Michael was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
Michael is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with sales of over 120 million records worldwide. He achieved seven number-one songs on the UK Singles Chart and eight number-one songs on the US Billboard Hot 100. Michael won various music awards, including two Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, three American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, and six Ivor Novello Awards. In 2015, he was ranked 45th in Billboard's list of the "Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time". The Radio Academy named him the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.
George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (Greek: Γεώργιος Κυριάκος Παναγιώτου) on 25 June 1963 in East Finchley, London. His father, Kyriacos Panayiotou (nicknamed "Jack"),was a Greek Cypriot restaurateur who emigrated to England in the 1950s. His mother, Lesley Angold (born Harrison, died 1997), was an English dancer. In June 2008, Michael told the Los Angeles Times that his maternal grandmother was Jewish, but she married a non-Jewish man and raised her children with no knowledge of their Jewish background due to her fear during World War II. Michael spent most of his childhood in Kingsbury, London, in the home his parents bought soon after his birth; he attended Roe Green Junior School and Kingsbury High School. Michael had two sisters: Yioda (born 1958) and Melanie (1960–2019). On the BBC's Desert Island Discs, he disclosed that his interest in music followed an injury to his head around the age of eight.
While Michael was in his early teens, the family moved to Radlett. There, Michael attended Bushey Meads School in Bushey, where he befriended his future Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley. The two had the same career ambition of being musicians.Michael busked on the London Underground, performing songs such as "'39" by Queen. His involvement in the music business began with his working as a DJ, playing at clubs and local schools around Bushey, Stanmore, and Watford. This was followed by the formation of a short-lived ska band called The Executive, with Ridgeley, Ridgeley's brother Paul, Andrew Leaver, Jamie Gould, and David Mortimer (later known as David Austin). On the cusp of fame, he decided to legally change his name to the more accessible George Michael.
Last Days Of George Michael with some adverts/commercials. I had no time to remove them as this was recorded straight from the TV. I can't edit the video now to remove them without creating a new video post. Sorry. Aired on 23rd March 2017.
Main article: Wham!
Michael (left) and Andrew Ridgeleyas Wham!, c. 1984–1985
Michael formed the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The band's first album Fantastic reached No. 1 in the UK in 1983 and produced a series of top 10 singles including "Young Guns", "Wham Rap!" and "Club Tropicana". Their second album, Make It Big, reached No. 1 on the charts in the US. Singles from that album included "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (No. 1 in the UK and US), "Freedom", "Everything She Wants", and "Careless Whisper" which reached No. 1 in nearly 25 countries, including the UK and US, and was Michael's first solo effort as a single. In December 1984, the single "Last Christmas" was released. In 1985 Michael received the first of his three Ivor Novello Awards for Songwriter of the Year from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
Michael performed on the original 1984 Band Aid recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?"—he appears third on the song after Paul Young and Boy George sing their lines. The song became the UK Christmas number one and Michael also donated the profits from "Last Christmas" and "Everything She Wants" to charity. Michael sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" with Elton John at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in London on 13 July 1985. He also contributed background vocals to David Cassidy's 1985 hit "The Last Kiss", as well as Elton John's 1985 successes "Nikita" and "Wrap Her Up". Michael cited Cassidy as a major career influence and interviewed Cassidy for David Litchfield's Ritz Newspaper.
Wham!'s tour of China in April 1985, the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, generated worldwide media coverage, much of it centred on Michael. The headline in the Chicago Tribuneread: "East meets Wham!, and another great wall comes down". Before Wham!'s appearance in China, many kinds of music in the country were forbidden. The band's manager,Simon Napier-Bell, had spent 18 months trying to convince Chinese officials to let the duo play. The audience included members of the Chinese government, and Chinese television presenter, Kan Lijun, who was the on stage host, spoke of Wham!'s historic performance:
"No-one had ever seen anything like that before. All the young people were amazed and everybody was tapping their feet. Of course the police weren't happy and they were scared there would be riots."
Wham! performed their hits with scantily clad dancers and strobing disco lights. According to Napier-Bell, Michael tried to get the crowd to clap along to "Club Tropicana", but "they hadn't a clue – they thought he wanted applause and politely gave it", before adding that some Chinese did eventually "get the hang of clapping on the beat." A UK embassy official in China stated "there was some lively dancing but this was almost entirely confined to younger western members of the audience." The tour was documented by film director Lindsay Anderson and producer Martin Lewis in their film Wham! in China: Foreign Skies.
With the success of Michael's solo singles, "Careless Whisper" (1984) and "A Different Corner" (1986), rumours of an impending break up of Wham! intensified. The duo officially separated in 1986, after releasing a farewell single, "The Edge of Heaven" and a farewell compilation, The Final (their third album Music from the Edge of Heaven was released in North America and Japan), plus a sell-out concert at Wembley Stadium that included the world premiere of the China film. The Wham! partnership ended officially with the commercially successful single "The Edge of Heaven", which reached No. 1 on the UK chart in June 1986.
During early 1987, at the beginning of his solo career, Michael released "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", a duet with Aretha Franklin. "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" was a one-off project that helped Michael achieve an ambition by singing with one of his favourite artists. It scored number one on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 upon its release. For Michael, it became his third consecutive solo number one in the UK from three releases, after 1984's "Careless Whisper" (though the single was actually from the Wham! album Make It Big) and 1986's "A Different Corner". The single was also the first Michael had recorded as a solo artist which he had not written himself. The co-writer, Simon Climie, was unknown at the time; he later had success as a performer with the band Climie Fisher in 1988. Michael and Aretha Franklin won a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best R&B Performance – Duo or Group with Vocal for the song.
In late 1987, Michael released his debut solo album, Faith. The first single released from the album was "I Want Your Sex", in mid-1987. The song was banned by many radio stations in the UK and US, due to its sexually suggestive lyrics. MTV broadcast the video, featuring celebrity make-up artist Kathy Jeung in a basque and suspenders, only during the late night hours. Michael argued that the act was beautiful if the sex was monogamous, and he recorded a brief prologue for the video in which he said: "This song is not about casual sex."
One of the racier scenes involved Michael writing the words "explore monogamy" on his partner's back in lipstick. Some radio stations played a toned-down version of the song, "I Want Your Love", with the word "love" replacing "sex".
When "I Want Your Sex" reached the US charts, American Top 40 host Casey Kasem refused to say the song's title, referring to it only as "the new single by George Michael." In the US, the song was also sometimes listed as "I Want Your Sex (from Beverly Hills Cop II)", since the song was featured on the soundtrack of the movie. Despite censorship and radio play problems, "I Want Your Sex" reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 in the UK. The second single, "Faith", was released in October 1987, a few weeks before the album. "Faith" became one of his most popular songs. The song was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks, becoming the best-selling single of 1988 in the US. It also reached No. 1 in Australia, and No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. The video provided some definitive images of the 1980s music industry in the process—Michael in shades, leather jacket, cowboy boots, and Levi's jeans, playing a guitar near a classic-design jukebox.
On 30 October, Faith was released in the UK and in several markets worldwide. Faith topped the UK Albums Chart, and in the US, the album had 51 non-consecutive weeks in the top 10 of Billboard 200, including 12 weeks at No. 1. Faith had many successes, with four singles ("Faith", "Father Figure", "One More Try", and "Monkey") reaching No. 1 in the US. Faith was certified Diamond by the RIAA for sales of 10 million copies in the US. To date, global sales of Faith are more than 25 million units. The album was highly acclaimed by music critics, with AllMusic journalist Steve Huey describing it as a "superbly crafted mainstream pop/rock masterpiece" and "one of the finest pop albums of the '80s". In a review by Rolling Stonemagazine, journalist Mark Coleman commended most of the songs on the album, which he said "displays Michael's intuitive understanding of pop music and his increasingly intelligent use of his power to communicate to an ever-growing audience."
In 1988, Michael embarked on a world tour. In Los Angeles, Michael was joined on stage by Aretha Franklin for "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". It was the second highest grossing event of 1988, earning $17.7 million. At the 1988 Brit Awardsheld at the Royal Albert Hall on 8 February, Michael received the first of his two awards for Best British Male Solo Artist. Later that month, Faith won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 31st Grammy Awards. At the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards on 6 September in Los Angeles, Michael received the Video Vanguard Award. According to Michael in his film, A Different Story, success did not make him happy and he started to think there was something wrong in being an idol for millions of teenage girls. The whole Faith process (promotion, videos, tour, awards) left him exhausted, lonely and frustrated, and far from his friends and family. In 1990, he told his record company Sony that, for his second album, he did not want to do promotions like the one for Faith.
Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was released in September 1990. The title is an indication of his desire to be taken more seriously as a songwriter. It reached No. 23 in the UK and No. 27 in the US in October 1990. The album was released in Europe on 3 September 1990, and one week later in the US. It reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart and peaked at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200. It spent a total of 88 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and was certified four-times Platinum by the BPI. The album produced five UK singles, all of which were released within an eight-month period: "Praying for Time", "Waiting for That Day", "Freedom! '90", "Heal the Pain", and "Cowboys and Angels" (the latter being his only single not to chart in the UK top 40). Michael refused to do any promotion for the album. At the 1991 Brit Awards, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 won the award for Best British Album.
The album's first single, "Praying for Time", with lyrics concerning social ills and injustice, was released in August 1990. James Hunter of Rolling Stone magazine described the song as "a distraught look at the world's astounding woundedness. Michael offers the healing passage of time as the only balm for physical and emotional hunger, poverty, hypocrisy, and hatred." The song was an instant success, reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 6 in the UK. A video was released shortly thereafter, consisting of the lyrics on a dark background. Michael did not appear in this video or any subsequent videos for the album. The second single from Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, "Waiting for That Day", was an acoustic-heavy single, released as an immediate follow-up to "Praying for Time".
"Freedom '90" was the second of only two singles from Listen Without Prejudice to be supported by a music video (the other being the Michael-less "Praying for Time"). The song alludes to his struggles with his artistic identity, and prophesied his efforts shortly thereafter to end his recording contract with Sony Music. As if to prove the song's sentiment, Michael refused to appear in the video (directed by David Fincher), and instead recruited supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, and Cindy Crawford to appear in and lip sync in his stead. It also featured lyrics critical of his sex symbol status. It reached No. 8 success on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, and No. 28 on the UK Singles Chart. "Mother's Pride" gained significant radio play in the US during the first Persian Gulf War during 1991, often with radio stations mixing in callers' tributes to soldiers with the music.
Later in 1991, Michael embarked on the Cover to Cover tour in Japan, England, the US, and Brazil, where he performed at Rock in Rio. The tour was not a proper promotion for Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Rather, it featured Michael singing his favourite cover songs. Among his favourites was "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", a 1974 song by Elton John; Michael and John had performed the song together at the Live Aid concert in 1985, and again for Michael's concert at London's Wembley Arena on 25 March 1991, where the duet was recorded. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" was released as a single at the end of 1991 and reached No. 1 in both the UK and US. In 1991, Michael released an autobiography through Penguin Books titled Bare, co-written with Tony Parsons.
An expected follow-up album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2, was scrapped due to Michael's lawsuit with Sony. Instead, Michael donated three songs to the charity project Red Hot + Dance, for the Red Hot Organization which raised money for AIDS awareness; a fourth track, "Crazyman Dance", was the B-side of 1992's "Too Funky". Michael donated the royalties from "Too Funky" to the same cause. "Too Funky" reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
"George Michael was the best. There's a certain note in his voice when he did 'Somebody to Love' that was pure Freddie." —Queen guitarist Brian May on Michael's performance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
Michael performed with Queen at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on 20 April 1992 at Wembley Stadium. The concert was a tribute to the life of the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, with the proceeds going to AIDS research. Michael performed "'39", "These Are the Days of Our Lives" with Lisa Stansfield and "Somebody to Love". Michael's performance of "Somebody to Love" was hailed as "one of the best performances of the tribute concert". Michael later reflected, "It was probably the proudest moment for me of my career, because it was me living out a childhood fantasy, I suppose, to sing one of Freddie's songs in front of 80,000 people."
The Five Live EP featured five live recordings (six in several countries) performed by Michael, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield. "Somebody to Love" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives" were recorded at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. "Killer", "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", and "Calling You" were recorded during his Cover to Cover Tour from 1991.All proceeds from the sale of the EP benefited the Mercury Phoenix Trust. Sales of the EP were strong through Europe, where it debuted at No. 1 in the UK and several European countries.
Chart success in the US was less spectacular, where it reached No. 40 on the Billboard 200 ("Somebody to Love" reached No. 30 on the US Billboard Hot 100). The performance would later feature on Queen's compilation album Greatest Hits III.
During November 1994, after a long period of seclusion, Michael appeared at the first MTV Europe Music Awards show, where he gave a performance of a new song, "Jesus to a Child". The song was a melancholy tribute to his lover, Anselmo Feleppa, who had died in March 1993. The song entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 1 and No. 7 on Billboard upon release in 1996. It was Michael's longest UK Top 40 single, at almost seven minutes long. The exact identity of the song's subject—and the nature of Michael's relationship with Feleppa—was shrouded in innuendo and speculation, as Michael had not confirmed he was homosexual and did not do so until 1998. The video for "Jesus to a Child" was a picture of images recalling loss, pain and suffering. Michael consistently dedicated the song to Feleppa before performing it live.
Michael released "Fastlove", an energetic tune about wanting gratification and fulfilment without commitment, in 1996. The single version was nearly five minutes long. "Fastlove" was supported by a futuristic virtual reality-related video. The single reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, spending three weeks at the top spot. In the US, "Fastlove" peaked at No. 8. Following "Fastlove", Michael released Older, his third studio album. In the UK, the album was particularly notable for producing a record six top three hit singles in a two-year span.
In 1996, Michael was voted Best British Male at the MTV Europe Music Awards and the Brit Awards; and at the British Academy's Ivor Novello Awards, he was awarded the title of Songwriter of the Year for the third time. Michael performed a concert at Three Mills Studios, London, for MTV Unplugged. It was his first long performance in years, and in the audience was Michael's mother, who died of cancer the following year.
Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael (1998) was Michael's first solo greatest hits collection. The collection of 28 songs (29 songs are included on the European and Australian release) are separated into two halves, with each containing a particular theme and mood. The first CD, titled "For the Heart", predominantly contains ballads; the second CD, "For the Feet", consists mainly of dance tunes. It was released through Sony Music Entertainment as a condition of severing contractual ties with the label. Ladies & Gentlemen was a success, peaking at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart for eight weeks. It spent over 200 weeks in the UK chart, and is the 45th best-selling album of all time in the UK. It is certified seven-times platinum in the UK and multi-platinum in the US, and is Michael's most commercially successful album in his homeland, having sold more than 2.8 million copies. As of 2013, the album had reached worldwide sales of approximately 15 million copies.
The first single of the album, "Outside", was a humorous song making a reference to his arrest for soliciting a policeman in a public toilet. "As", his duet with Mary J. Blige, was released as the second single in many territories around the world. Both singles reached the top 5 in the UK Singles Chart.
Released in 1999, Songs from the Last Century is a studio album of cover tracks. The album achieved the lowest peak of his solo efforts, peaking at No. 157 on the American Billboard 200 albums chart and at No. 2 in the UK Albums Chart.
Garth Brooks and Michael at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, 29 April 2000
In 2000, Michael worked on the hit single "If I Told You That" with Whitney Houston. Michael co-produced on the single along with Rodney Jerkins. Michael's first single from his fifth studio album, "Freeek!", reached the Top 10 in the UK. His next single was "Shoot the Dog" which was released in July 2002 during the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The video for the song showed Tony Blair as George Bush's poodle. The single's cover featured the Daily Mirror's "Howdy Poodle" front page from earlier in the year. Responding to criticism, Michael said, "I am British, I live here, I pay my taxes, and I'm very, very worried that we are now the second most dangerous country in the world thanks to our special relationship with America." It reached No. 1 in Denmark and made the top 5 in most European charts. It peaked at No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart.
In February 2003, Michael recorded another song in protest against the looming Iraq war, Don McLean's "The Grave". The original was written by McLean in 1971 and was a protest against the Vietnam War. Michael performed the song on numerous TV shows including Top of the Pops and So Graham Norton. His performance of the song on Top of the Pops on 7 March 2003 was his first studio appearance on the programme since 1986. He ran into conflict with the show's producers for an anti-war, anti-Blair T-shirt worn by some members of his band. McLean stated that he was "'proud of George Michael for standing up for life and sanity'".
Michael performing in Antwerp, Belgium, 2006
When Michael's fifth studio album, Patience, was released in 2004, it was critically acclaimed and went to No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart. The album became one of the fastest-selling albums in the UK, selling over 200,000 copies in the first week alone. It reached the Top 5 on most European charts and peaked at No. 12 in the US, selling over 500,000 copies to earn a Gold certification from the RIAA. "Amazing", the third single from the album, became a No. 1 hit in Europe. When Michael appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on 26 May 2004, to promote the album, he performed "Amazing", along with his classic songs "Father Figure" and "Faith". On the show, Michael spoke of his arrest, the public revelation of his homosexuality, and his resumption of public performances. He allowed Oprah's crew inside his home outside London. The fourth single taken off the album was "Flawless". It was a dance hit in Europe as well as North America, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and becoming Michael's last No. 1 single on the US Dance chart. Twenty Five is Michael's second greatest hits album, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his music career. Released in November 2006 by Sony BMG, it debuted at no. 1 in the UK.
Michael onstage in Munich, 2006
During the 2005 Live 8 concert at Hyde Park, London, Michael joined Paul McCartney on stage, harmonising on The Beatles classic "Drive My Car". In 2006, Michael embarked on his first tour in 15 years, 25 Live. The tour began in Barcelona, Spain, on 23 September and finished in December at Wembley Arena in England. On 9 June 2007, Michael became the first artist to perform live at the newly renovated Wembley Stadium in London. On 25 March 2008, a third part of the 25 Live Tour was announced for North America, with 21 dates in the US and Canada.
Michael made his American acting debut by playing a guardian angel to Jonny Lee Miller's character on Eli Stone, a US TV series. Each episode of the show's first season was named after a song of his. Michael also appeared on the 2008 finale show of American Idol on 21 May, singing "Praying for Time". When asked what he thought Simon Cowell would say of his performance, he replied "I think he'll probably tell me I shouldn't have done a George Michael song. He's told plenty of people that in the past, so I think that'd be quite funny."
On 25 December 2008, Michael released a new Christmas-themed track, "December Song", on his website for free.
Michael at the Royal Opera House in 2011
In early 2010, Michael performed his first concerts in Australia since 1988. On 20 February 2010, Michael performed his first show in Perth at the Burswood Dome to an audience of 15,000. On 2 March 2011, Michael announced the release of his cover version of New Order's 1987 hit "True Faith" in aid of the UK charity telethon Comic Relief. Michael appeared on Comic Relief itself, featuring in the first Carpool Karaokesketch of James Corden, with the pair singing songs while Corden drove around London. On 15 April 2011, Michael released a cover of Stevie Wonder's 1972 song, "You and I", as an MP3 gift to Prince William and Catherine Middleton on the occasion of their wedding on 29 April 2011. Although the MP3 was released for free download, Michael appealed to those who downloaded the track to make a contribution to "The Prince William & Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund".
Michael at the
LED lights during Michael's performance of his 1990 single "Freedom!" at the ceremony
The Symphonica Tour began at the Prague State Opera House on 22 August 2011. In October 2011, Michael was announced as one of the final nominees for the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. In November, he had to cancel the remainder of the tour as he became ill with pneumonia in Vienna, Austria, ultimately slipping into a coma.
In February 2012, two months after leaving hospital, Michael made a surprise appearance at the 2012 Brit Awards at the O2 Arena in London, where he received a standing ovation, and presented Adele the award for Best British Album. In March, Michael announced that he was healthy and that the Symphonica Tour would resume in autumn. The final concert of the tour—which was also the final concert of Michael's life–was performed at London's Earls Court on 17 October 2012.
Symphonica was released on 17 March 2014, and became Michael's seventh solo No. 1 album in the UK, and ninth overall including his Wham! chart-toppers. The album was produced by Phil Ramone and Michael; the album was Ramone's last production credit.
On 2 November 2016, Michael's management team announced that a second documentary on his life, entitled Freedom, was set to be released in March 2017. A month after, English songwriter Naughty Boy confirmed plans to collaborate with Michael, for a new song and album. Naughty Boy claimed that the song is "amazing but [...] bittersweet". On 7 September 2017 (months after Michael's death), the single "Fantasy", featuring Nile Rodgers, was released.
Having charted at number two upon its release in 1984 (behind Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" which Michael also performed in), "Last Christmas" finally reached number-one in the UK Singles Chart on New Year's Day 2021 (chart week ending date 7 January 2021), more than 36 years after its initial release. Andrew Ridgeley said the chart placing was "a testament to its timeless appeal and charm", adding: "It is a fitting tribute to George's song-writing genius … he would have been immensely proud and utterly thrilled."
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