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George … Rest in Peace!

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]is track ‘Careless Whisper’ are one of the favourite songs of mine all the time. He was a stunning singer with unique style and pain in voice. At times look very romantic lover boy that every young girl wants. I spent my teenage days listening his tracks and reading Mills and Boon books. For sure, his songs will always remind us of him.

George Michael was Grammy Award-winner pop singer who started his career with the band called ‘Wham!’. He passed away peacefully at home on the Christmas day. Michael enjoyed immense popularity early in his career as a teenybopper idol, delivering a series of hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go—Go,” “Young Guns (Go For It)” and “Freedom.” As a solo artist, he developed into a more serious singer and songwriter, lauded by critics for his tremendous vocal range. He sold well over 100 million albums globally, earned numerous Grammy and American Music Awards, and recorded duets with Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Luciano Pavarotti and Elton John among others.

Throughout his career, his drug use and taste for risky sex brought him into frequent encounters with the law, most famously in 1998 when he was arrested for public coarseness in Los Angeles. Yet, he managed to turn the incident into silage for a popular song that poked fun at his behaviour, and his reaction of homosexuality at that time made him even more popular with his fans. Michael was the lead vocalist and songwriter and emerged as the star of the band. Ironically, one of his most memorable hits till date remains the song ‘Last Christmas’. The track is a festive classic released in 1984. It won over the hearts of the world and is played every year during Christmas. Michael later went solo in 1986. The artist who gave various chartbusters also performed at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

His 1987 debut solo album, Faith, sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Michael garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, including “Careless Whisper” and “Freedom! ’90”. He ranks among the best-selling British of all time, with Billboard magazine ranking him the 40th-most successful artist to ever live. Michael won various music awards throughout his 30-year career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.

In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004. The documentary ‘A Different Story’, released in 2005, covered his career and personal life. In 2006, Michael announced his first tour in 15 years, the worldwide 25 Live Tour, spanning three individual tours over the course of three years (2006, 2007 and 2008). In 2016, Michael announced a second documentary on his life entitled Freedom, set to be released in March 2017.

At the age of 19, Michael told Andrew Ridgeley and close friends that he was bisexual. Michael also informed one of his two sisters, but he was advised by friends not to disclose about his sexuality with his parents. In a 1999 interview with The Advocate, Michael told the Editor in Chief, Judy Wieder, that it was “falling in love with a man that ended his conflict over bisexuality”. “I never had a moral problem with being gay”, Michael told Wieder. “I thought I had fallen in love with a woman a couple of times. Then I fell in love with a man, and realized that none of those things had been love. In 2007, Michael said he had hidden the fact that he was gay because of worries over what effect it might have on his mother.

George Michael established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, a Brazilian dress designer, whom he had met at the 1991 concert Rock in Rio. Six months into their relationship, Feleppa discovered that he had HIV. In 1993, Feleppa died of an AIDS-related brain haemorrhage. George Michael’s single “Jesus to a Child” is a tribute to Feleppa (he consistently dedicated it to him before performing it live), as is in his 1996 album Older.

In 1996, George Michael entered into a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss, a former flight attendant, cheerleader coach and sportswear executive from Dallas. They had homes in Dallas and an £8 million mansion in Highgate, North London. In late November 2005, it was reported that Michael and Goss would register their relationship as a civil partnership in the UK, but because of negative publicity and his upcoming tour, they postponed it to a later date. On 22 August 2011, the opening night of his Symphonica world tour, George Michael announced that he and Goss had split two years earlier. Goss was present at Michael’s British sentencing for driving under the influence of marijuana on 14 September 2010.

Michael was arrested by an undercover policeman named Marcelo Rodríguez, in a sting operation using so-called “pretty police”. He was followed into the restroom and then the cop started playing the game. After pleading “no contest” to the charge, Michael was fined US$810 and sentenced to 80 hours of community service. Soon afterwards, Michael made a video for his single “Outside”, which satirised the public toilet incident and featured men dressed as policemen kissing. Rodríguez claimed that this video “mocked” him, and that Michael had slandered him in interviews. In 1999, he filed a US$10 million court case in California against the singer. The court then ruled Rodríguez, as a public official, could not legally recover damages for emotional distress. On 23 July 2006, Michael was again accused of engaging in anonymous public sex, this time at London’s Hampstead Heath. The anonymous partner was stated to be 58-year-old Norman Kirtland, an unemployed van driver. Despite saying that he intended to sue both the News of the World tabloid who supposedly photographed the incident and Norman Kirtland for slander, Michael stated that he cruised for anonymous sex and that this was not an issue in his relationship with partner Kenny Goss.

During the reign of Margaret Thatcher as the Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom throughout the 1980s, Michael had voted for Labour party. Michael wrote “Shoot the Dog”, a song critical about the friendly relationship between the British and American governments, in particular Tony Blair and George W. Bush, with their involvement in the Iraq War. Michael voiced his concern about the lack of public consultation in the UK regarding the War on Terror. In 1991, Michael released an autobiography through Penguin Books titled Bare, co-written with writer Tony Parsons. The over-200-page book covers various aspects of his life, including details of his relationship with a former girlfriend.

On 25th December 2016, Michael died at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in his sleep. He was 53. No cause of death was immediately determined but it is suspected to be heart failure. One era of singing halts with his demise.

We, the ‘Team NBC’ pay tribute to this legendary singer.

Inputs from various agencies 

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Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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