Considered to be one of the most successful pop artist of the 80’s, Wham! Is an English duo composed of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. They had several worldwide chart topping songs like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Careless Whisper”, and “Everything She Wants”. Over the course of their career, Wham! has sold over more 30 million records worldwide.
George Michael first met Andrew Ridgeley at Bushey Meads School in Hertfordshire and there, they joined a ska band named the Executive together with their schoolmates David Mortimer, Paul Ridgeley and Andrew Leaver. When the Executive disbanded, Andrew and Michael decided to form their duo and called it Wham! They eventually landed a record deal with Innervision Records.
George Michael was very hands on with the band, he did majority of the responsibilities like composing songs, producing, singing, and sometimes he is Wham!’s occasional instrumentalist. They marketed themselves as teenagers who are proud to live a carefree, commitment free life.
Fantastic- Released in 1983, “Fantastic” was Wham!’s debut studio album. It featured successful singles like “Young Guns”, “Wham! Rap”, “Club Tropicana”, and “Bad Boys”. This album became so popular that it reached the number one spot for two weeks in the UK albums chart. However, this album was released in the United States with Wham!’s name changed into Wham! U.K because of a conflict with another American pop group that had the same name.
Make it Big- This was Wham!’s second studio album. Because George Michael wants to concentrate and work peacefully on this album, they recorded this in Studio Miraval at Southern France to avoid the press. “Make it Big” received commercial success and reached the top spot in both UK and US charts. This album featured four chart topping singles like “Careless Whisper”, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Everything She Wants”, and “Freedom”. They started the worldwide tour named “The Big Tour” to promote the album in 1984. Make it Big reached a six times platinum status and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
The Final- Wham!’s third studio album was a compilation album that was only released in the UK. This album featured all Wham!’s hit songs and remix versions of it.
Music from the Edge of Heaven- Released exclusively in Japan and North America in 1986, this was considered to be Wham!’s third album. “Music from the Edge of Heaven” was pretty similar to “The Final” album except the latter contains Wham!’s major hit singles.
Wham! decided to take a break from recording and began to focus on a world tour. This tour included a ground breaking moment when they had a ten day visit to China which had never been done by a Western pop group before. Wham! had a concert at the People’s Gymnasium in Beijing and another concert in Canton. This visit attracted so much media attention but Wham!’s manager admitted later on that the visit was a publicity stunt which was used as a sabotage for the effort for the rock band Queen to be the first western band to visit China.
Wham! scored several hit songs during their career and these include:
- Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
- Last Christmas
- Everything She Wants
- Club Tropicana
- The Edge of Heaven
- Where Did Your Heart Go
- Wham Rap!
- Young Guns
- Bad Boys
- Careless Whisper
- Credit Card Baby
Disbandment, Post Wham! and Michael’s Death
Wham! Decided to disband because George Michael wanted to target a more sophisticated adult market. When the duo announced their disbandment in 1986, they released a farewell single entitled “The Edge of Heaven”. Wham! bid goodbye to their fans by having a farewell concert at the Wembley Stadium in London. It was an eight hour event with a total of 72,000 people present.
After Wham! disbanded, George Michael spoke negatively to the press about how hard it is for him to stay in the duo. He stated that he always felt constant pressure and that Wham! had been always mistreated financially. Andrew Ridgeley moved to Monaco and tried his luck at formula three racing. Achieving little success, Ridgeley moved to Los Angeles to pursue his love for singing and acting. Unfortunately, his career did not push through and he decided to move back to England in 1990.
In 1991, Ridgeley and Michael performed on stage together for a few songs at the Rock in Rio event in Brazil. In 2012, George Michael denied the rumors that Wham! is set for a reunion to mark their 30th anniversary of their first album.
In December 25, 2016, George Michael died of liver and heart disease at his home in Oxfordshire.