Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou was born on June 25, 1963, in North London, England. He moved to Radlett, Hertfordshire while in his teens. Attending Bushey Meads School, he met fellow musician Andrew Ridgeley.
George worked as a DJ at local clubs and he even formed a ska band called The Executive, along with Ridgeley.
In 1981, George and Ridgeley formed the duo Wham! Their first album, “Fantastic”, did well in the UK, going to number one and spawning three top ten singles.
It was their second album, “Make It Big”, which got a great deal of attention on both sides of the Atlantic. The album produced two #1 Wham! Singles and a number one hit for George as a solo artist.
Wham! continued to record and tour until 1986, when the partnership ended. Ridgeley pursued a race car driving career and then a solo singing career in 1990.
George, on the other hand, continued as a solo artist and he also teamed up with Elton John, Aretha Franklin and David Cassidy, who George considers a major career influence.
On the charts, with Wham!, as a solo artist and on duets, George made it to the Top 40 weekly charts 24 times with ten of those being number one hits. Here’s a look at George Michael’s twenty biggest hits, according to Billboard’s Weekly Top 40 Charts:
1. Faith – 1987 – From the album of the same name, George’s biggest single sat on top of the charts for four weeks.
2. Careless Whisper – 1985 – Even though this was George’s first solo single, he was still a member of Wham! The song itself has been covered by many artists and it reached number one in nearly 25 countries.
3. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – 1984 – Wham’s! first single went to number one for three weeks and was featured in the movie “Zoolander.”
4. One More Try – 1988 – A ballad that lasts nearly six minutes, this song is a fan favorite at live performances.
5. Everything She Wants – 1985 – Another single from Wham’s “Make It Big” album, the flip side is the holiday favorite “Last Christmas.”
6. Father Figure – One of six top ten singles from George’s debut album, “Faith.”
7. I Knew You Were Waiting For Me – 1987 – Teaming up with Aretha Franklin, an artist he had wanted to record with for a long time, this was also Aretha’s first top ten single in nearly two decades.
8. Monkey – 1988 – The fourth number one single from the “Faith” album, George tied Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston for having four consecutive number one singles from an album during the 1987-1988 period.
9. Praying For Time – 1990 – George’s last solo number one single was covered by Carrie Underwood and George performed it on the 1988 season finale of American Idol.
10. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – 1991 – Recorded live with Elton John, who took it to number two in 1974, this duet marks George’s last number one single.
11. I Want Your Sex – 1987 – From the “Faith” album, this single was also featured in the film, “Beverly Hills Cop II,” and the soundtrack. Needless to say, the song faced censorship issues.
12. Freedom – 1985 – From the “Make It Big” album, this Wham! single was also released as a square picture disc, with George’s picture on it.
13. I’m Your Man – 1986 – Featured on the “Music From the Edge of Heaven/ The Final” album; Wham’s! last album together.
14. Kissing A Fool – 1988 – The sixth and final single from the “Faith” album, this song was also covered by Michael Buble.
15. Heaven Help Me – 1989 – George provides backup vocals on this single released by Wham! bassist, Deon Estus, from his album, “Spell”, which George produced.
16. A Different Corner – 1986 – Another solo effort from George while he was still a member of Wham!
17. Jesus To A Child – A melancholy tribute to George’s Brazilian lover, Anselmo Feleppa, this is the first single from his “Older” album.
18. Freedom! 90 – 1990 – Not to be confused with the Wham! hit from 1985, this completely different song appears on the album, “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” and was sung by George at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics.
19. Fastlove – 1996 – The second of six singles released from George’s “Older” album and, to date, George’s last Top 10 single in the U.S.
20. The Edge of Heaven – 1986 – The last Top 10 single from Wham! and from their “Music From The Edge of Heaven” album.
Although he is an extremely popular recording artist, controversy followed him everywhere. George’s sexual preference came out into the open, when he announced his homosexuality in 1998. He had problems with drugs and was arrested five times between 2006-2010 for possession and driving under the influence. He was also arrested in 1998 and again in 2006 for public lewdness.
Health wise, in 2011, George had to cancel a Royal Albert Hall performance, due to a viral infection that had him hospitalized for nearly two months.
Despite the bad press, George has raised and donated money to many charities.
He has won four MTV Video Awards, three American Music Awards and two Grammys.
An autobiography titled, “Bare” was published in 1991.
Even though George hasn’t had a top forty hit in the U.S. since 1996, he continues to produce hits in countries around the world, as recently as 2012, with the top twenty UK hit, “White Light.”
The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits – Joel Whitburn – Billboard Publications