Who was the lead singer of Wham

The life of George Michael: From adored teen idol to mature solo artist

London The driving force behind George Michael's first musical steps was quite trivial. “I wanted to be loved,” the British singer once admitted frankly. "That was an ego-gratification thing." On the Olympus of fame, he then seemed to struggle with being a star. He would like to cut back on the tours and interviews and let his work speak for itself, he said.

As one of the few pop legends, Michael managed the balancing act: initially adored by the MTV generation as a teen idol, he later impressed the critics as a mature solo artist with a golden voice. The fact that Michael was self-confident about his sexual orientation after his first reluctance in his art made him all the more popular with his fans. Despite his antics, they stayed true to the bar and even expected a big comeback.

Through these songs he became immortal

But that should no longer be granted to him. Just at Christmas time, when the Wham! Hit "Last Christmas" is playing again in many places, Michael died in England at the age of 53. His manager named heart failure as the cause of death. Companions and music colleagues bowed to Michael.

He achieved fame at a young age as the lead singer of Wham !. It sounded like a classic showbiz story: a boy named Georgios Kyriakos Panagiotou with Greek Cypriot roots calls himself George Michael and forms a pop duo with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley that makes him immortal.

Imposing presence in front of the camera

Photos and videos from that era in the early 80s show a dazzling-looking Michael with long curly hair, piercing eyes and a perky, engaging smile. It seemed like it was made for MTV, which was launched around the time: Michael's imposing presence in front of the camera came into its own on the station. He copied some of his dance moves from Elvis Presley. At the same time, he stylized himself as a motorcycle rebel who would have made James Dean or Marlon Brando proud.

When he moved away from Wham! emancipated and landed his own hits, he seemed to have reached the top of the pop world. But Michael later confessed that he had struggled with his sexuality at the time. He remembers his late twenties as a very depressing phase.

"I had my first relationship when I was 27 because I didn't really face my sexuality until I was 24," said Michael. “I lost my partner to HIV, then it took me about three years to grieve; after that I lost my mother. I almost had the feeling that I was cursed. "

He was restless and sad back then, and yet his greatest chart triumphs fell during this time. Michael could hardly save himself from trophies at award galas, he went to the recording studio for duets with music giants such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Luciano Pavarotti and Elton John.

Michael's recipe for success was based not only on the skillful blend of soul and dance elements, but also on testing limits. For example, there was the slippery song “I Want Your Sex” from his hit album “Faith” from 1987, which was accompanied by a no less provocative video. The song was considered controversial not only because of its unambiguous content, but also because of the message, which was understood as an encouragement to casual sex, in times of an AIDS epidemic. Michael and his management tried to catch the criticism by scrawling the words "Explore monogamy" on the legs and back of a model in the video.

Sex appeal in women

At that time, the pop star had not yet come out as gay, his successes were mainly based on his sex appeal with young women. But that changed abruptly in 1998: In Los Angeles he was caught by a plainclothes policeman in a public toilet while looking for sex. The charge: immoral behavior.

At an earlier point in time, the incident would have sealed the end of his career. But instead of buckling, Michael went on the offensive with the single "Outside" and a matching video. The song poked fun at the allegations against him - and the police officer who arrested him along with it. Many can remember the scene with the two police officers in uniform kissing. Some found it hilarious, others an affront. And Michael used the episode to break free. From then on he spoke with pride of his homosexuality and was not too bad to make fun of himself.

Trouble over open drug use

However, the stream of hits began to ebb over the years, but there were plenty of worries about his health and increasing anger with the police because of his open drug use. Unmoved, he admitted that he was addicted to marijuana and pain medication. Several times he was behind the wheel with drugs in his blood, had accidents or was found slumped behind the wheel. His erratic driving style was often the target of ridicule, but the underlying problems were serious. In 2010, Michael was finally revoked for five years after driving his rover into a photo shop with full force.

In 2008 Michael was arrested a second time in a public toilet in north London, this time for drug use. The incident prompted him to apologize to fans and pledge to fix his life.

At a press conference a good three years later, he was also remorseful. He has the feeling that he has disappointed young people in particular with his behavior. On top of that he made it easy for others to look down on homosexuals, he said thoughtfully. But it is true that by this time his songs had become pop anthems for the LGBT community for many people.