2016 was a rough year for celebrity deaths, we lost so many greats. The one that hit me the hardest was George Michael whom I have loved since I was a little girl. I credit his sexiness for not only for kicking off an early puberty but for endowing me with a large rack. All those lustful pre-teen hormones had to go somewhere and for me they settled in my chest (regretfully some of it also made its way to my ass).
I was a devoted fan throughout his career, from Wham!, through his aviator sunglasses days and beyond. As I noted in Crushes, the “Faith” video still does it for me in a major way. Despite all of George Michael’s struggles throughout his life, or perhaps because of them, he always felt like a kindred spirit: blessed but broken.
He described what propelled him in various interviews as: “It’s not the something extra that makes a star. It’s the something missing.” Art in its various forms isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion, a need to create something that will provide a fleeting sense of wholeness.
George Michael was so underrated as a vocalist. His live 1992 cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” was a worthy tribute to Freddie Mercury who had a four octave range and exceptional control in his head and chest voice, very few singers can do his songs justice. My favorite non-vocal part of this cover occurs between 3:50-4:00, the Wembley Stadium audience thunderously belts out “love”, Queen’s lead guitarist Brian May chuckles and George does a victorious twirl.
The year after the Freddie Mercury tribute concert, Princess Diana finally met George Michael at a World Aids Day concert. Diana was a big fan of George Michael’s and after George declined a few opportunities to meet her, when they finally were introduced, they became fast friends. Diana’s former chef, Darren McGrady, revealed some details about their relationship in a Daily Mail piece.
George spent a lot of time with Diana and helped her through her separation with Prince Charles, she would also ring him up and they would chat. A tape of one such conversation exists in the safety deposit box of Andros Georgiou, one of George’s friends. The back story and some other interesting anecdotes about Princess Diana and George Michael can be read in this piece.
George regretted not speaking with Diana in the two years before her death, life just got in the way and he always assumed she must have so many callers, he didn’t want to be an intrusion. After Princess Diana’s death, George didn’t have much contact with her sons but told Piers Morgan in a 2011 interview that once at a Christmas party Princess Diana threw at Kenington Palace, he declined to honor an impromptu request from Prince William to sing, admitting he felt terrible about saying no to “probably the future king of England” but was too embarrassed to sing in front of small crowds, joking “there was a day I would have been taken to the Tower”. Because of George’s close bond with Princess Diana, for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, George wanted to give them a special gift and recorded a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You and I” for their wedding. He confirmed through a mutual friend that they both liked the song before making the track for them, hoping that they would be able to use it to raise donations for The Royal Wedding Charity Fund.
For me, it is the best thing to have come out of the Royal Wedding.
While George Michael’s scandals have been published exhaustively throughout the tabloids, much less ink has been dedicated to his charitable nature. He was a kind gentle generous soul who quietly donated a lot of money to AIDS and cancer organizations, children’s charities, animal rescues and private individuals he heard about who needed help. He not only gave of his money, but his time as well, volunteering at homeless shelters and various charities, asking fellow volunteers that his presence remain anonymous.
George Michael’s Older album has been said to have helped Prince William get through his mother’s death. I imagine George Michael’s death had to have brought up old pain for Prince William, but hopefully it also reminded him of the positive impact his mother and her pop star friend had on the lives of so many and will inspire him to create his own legacy.