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The ups and downs of George Michael
George Michael
George Michael kicked off his latest tour in September
George Michael is considered a musical veteran in today's climate of short-lived manufactured singers and bands.

But the career of the outspoken singer has also been one dogged by ups and downs, with his fair share of controversy, exemplified by his caution for possession of cannabis in London.

He started out in boy band Wham! as the lead singer alongside guitarist Andrew Ridgeley, whom he met at school in north London.

The pair had a massive following, carving out a huge fan young fan base with hits such as Wake me Up Before You Go Go, Freedom and Last Christmas.

The group had four best-selling albums, including a greatest hits release in 1997.

Michael, who was born Georgios Panaytiotou, had his first stab at solo success in 1984 with the ballad Careless Whisper, which went to number one.

Wham! were the biggest boyband of their time
He continued performing with Wham! and it wasn't until 1986 that the duo went their separate ways, with Ridgeley devoting his time to rally driving and later becoming an environmental activist.

Michael re-invented his image and released the singles A Different Corner, Faith and I Want Your Sex.

These were taken from his number one album Faith which established him as one of the UK's biggest solo talents.

While he still appealed to young fans he also managed to gain a new older following, ensuring massive record sales.

'Professional slavery'

Faith sold more than 10 million copies and earned Michael a best album Grammy in 1988.

The album Listen Without Prejudice followed in 1990, which spawned the hit single Praying for Time.

But he fell out spectacularly with his record company in 1994 and tried to get himself released from his contract which he had called "professional slavery".

A three-month court case ensued which Michael eventually lost, forcing him to fulfil his contractual commitments and record two more songs - Outside and As - to be used on a greatest hits album.

He eventually settled his differences with the company and parted company with them in 2003.

George Michael
George Michael split with Wham in 1986

In 2002, Michael found himself in the firing line when he released the single Shoot the Dog, which featured a cartoon video of Prime Minister Tony Blair as US President George Bush's poodle.

There was a particular backlash against it in US because it was seen as anti-American, with Michael fearing he would be unable to the return to the US.

Despite the huge publicity the single reached only number 12 in the UK charts.

More recently Michael said he was thinking about retiring from the music business, but later backtracked.

He has embarked on his first tour in more than a decade to mark his 25 years in the music business, with sold out UK dates beginning in November.

Michael has suffered a number of legal woes in recent years, starting when he was arrested in a public toilet in Los Angeles after attempting to solicit an undercover police officer in 1998.

Chart success

His conviction for lewd conduct resulted in a $450 fine and 80 hours community service.

It also forced Michael to admit he was gay, something he had refused to be drawn on in the past.

Once he put his sexuality in the public domain he became vocal about gay issues, speaking publicly about the death of his partner Aselmo to Aids in the early 1990s.

He struggled to achieve the heights of his early chart success but he was more content in his personal life, often speaking glowingly about long-term partner Kenny Goss.

Kenny Goss and George Michael
Michael has been with Kenny Goss (L) for many years

In July this year Michael admitted seeking "anonymous and no-strings sex" on London's Hampstead Heath, which he described as "the best cruising ground in London".

In an interview with BBC News he said he planned to take legal action against a man who claimed he had a gay encounter with the singer on the Heath, and he also said he planned to sue two photographers for harassment.

But he denied his planned civil partnership ceremony with Mr Goss was called off over his "cruising" saying "it has never been an issue between us".

See archive footage of George Michael

George Michael steps back into spotlight
06 Dec 05 |  Entertainment

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