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Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, George Michael began his career by forming a band called 'The Executives' together with Andrew Ridgeley. The band didn't survived for long though. It wasn't until he formed the duo Wham! together again with his best friend Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980s that the success came for the band. Their first album, 'Fantastic', was an instant success and within a year they had released their classic debut single, Wham Rap, while their second single, Young Guns (Go For It!) became the first in a string of Top 10 hits. They were rapidly followed by titles such as Club Tropicana, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Careless Whisper, Last Christmas, Everything She Wants, I'm Your Man, and many more. Michael also sang on the original Band Aid recording of 'Do They Know It's Christmas and donated the profits from 'Last Christmas' to the charity. After the success of his solo releases 'Careless Whisper' and 'Different Corner' stories of an impending split intensified. After a series of sell-out concerts at Wembley in 1986 the band was ended.
Some of his biggest hit singles as a solo artist include the single 'Faith', (taken from his debut album Faith that not only became No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic but also resulted in stunning 6 No.1 singles in America) and many more. 'Careless Whisper' (written when he was 17) became one of the most played songs of the decade and voted Londoner's Favourite record of all time in January 1995 in a competition run jointly by the capital's leading evening newspaper and radio station. He was then also voted Best Male Singer by the same radio station and by the readers of a national newspaper. Some of his other hits include 'Father Figure', 'One More Try', 'Freedom 90', 'Fastlove', 'Jesus To A Child', 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' (a duet with Elton John), 2002's 'Freeek!' and 'Shoot The Dog'. His work covers a variety of pop styles, from ballads to funky dance tracks. In a career spanning more than 20 years, George Michael has been responsible for more than 75 million album sales. Having decided to release his new material through a number of labels on a single-by-single basis, George found a home at Sony for his new, highly anticipated album Patience. It was released in March 2004 after two unstellar singles came out on Polydor and it debuted at number one on the UK album charts and number 2 in Australia.
Michael was involved in a court case concerning his record contract after his record company CBS was taken over by Sony. Amongst Michael's complaints was that Sony had not fully supported the release of his second solo album resulting in its poor performance in the US compared to 'Faith'. Sony responded that Michael had refused to appear in promotional videos and it was this that had caused the poor response to the album. The case was heard in London and was found against Michael. As a consequence Michael declared he would not release any new material until he had completed the minimum of his contractual obligations to Sony. Michael is also well known for his 1998 arrest for 'engaging in a lewd act' in a public restroom in a Beverly Hills city park. He was arrested by an undercover Beverly Hills police officer named Marcelo Rodriguez. George Michael: 'Well, I was followed into the restroom, and then, this cop - well, I didn't know he was a cop at the time obviously – he started playing this game. I think it's called ‘I'll show you mine, you show me yours, and then when you show me yours, I'm gonna nick you!'' After pleading 'no contest' to the charge, Michael was fined $810 and sentenced to 80 hours of community service. After that incident, he became open about his homosexuality. Soon afterwards, Michael made a video for his single 'Outside' which was clearly based on the public restroom incident and which featured men dressed up as policemen kissing. Rodriguez, the police officer, claimed that this video 'mocked' him, and also that Michael had slandered him in interviews, and in 1999 filed a ten million dollar lawsuit in California against the singer. The court dismissed the case on the grounds related to the officer's status as a kind of public official, but an appeals court reinstated the case on December 3, 2002. George has often taken a public political stance. George Michael sang as part of Band Aid on the charity song 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' for famine relief in Ethiopia and Wham! played at Live Aid in 1985. In the 1980s, George Michael was very critical of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government and its cruise missile alliance with the United States. George said that he felt bad, since through his taxes he was paying for these weapons, yet was obliged to never dodge his tax obligations to his home country. In December 2004 Elton John stated in an interview that he believed George Michael should 'get out more'. As both John and Michael were openly gay and had performed together on several occasions many were surprised at the public spat. In an open letter response Michael claimed he and Elton were not good friends and that John had little knowledge of his personal life other than what he might glean from gossip.
George Michael announced that Patience
will be the last record on sale to the public. He told BBC Radio 1 on
March 10, 2004 that future music that he puts out will be available for
download with fans encouraged to make a donation to charity. He said:
'I've been very well remunerated for my talents over the years so I
really don't need the public's money. I'd like to have something on the
Internet which is a charitable download site where anyone can download
my music for free. I'll have my favourite charities up there and people
will hopefully donate to that.' He states that the decision will put
less pressure to produce a new album every so often and allow him to
have more of a private life with his partner Kenny Goss.
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