After more than 25 years of success, scandal and tragedy, George Michael is back in the headlines after he was arrested in a public toilet and cautioned for possession of drugs.
A STAR IS BORN
- George Michael was born Yorgos Kyriakou Panayiotou on 25 June, 1963.
- He is the son of Greek Cypriot restaurant owner Jack and mum Lesley.
- Described as a "shy, podgy, bespectacled child", he sat next to Andrew Ridgley on his first day at secondary school in Bushey, Hertfordshire.
- The pair played in a short-lived ska band called The Executive in 1979.
- They formed Wham! and were signed after sending a demo tape to record label Innervision, a small subsidiary of CBS, in 1981.
- At that time, he changed his name. "I have never felt any ethnic connection between the Greeks and me other than how hairy I am," he said.
- The pair stepped in at the last minute to perform their second single Young Guns (Go For It!) on Top of the Pops after another act pulled out. The performance pushed the song into the top 40 and it became their first hit, eventually rising to number three.
Their manager Simon Napier-Bell previously managed The Yardbirds and Marc Bolan, and co-wrote Dusty Springfield hit You Don't Have To Say You Love Me. Napier-Bell later wrote of the band's appeal: "They looked like siblings, dressed as if they were on a holiday of a lifetime, and had a beguiling homoerotic intimacy." In 1983, Pepsi De Macque replaced backing dancer DC Lee to form a partnership with existing dancer Shirlie Holliman. Debut album Fantastic hit number one in the UK, while global success was achieved with aptly-titled second album Make It Big, which reached number one in the US. In April 1985, in front of 15,000 teenagers at the People's Gymnasium in Beijing, Wham! became the first Western pop group to perform in communist China. After a string of hits, the band split up in 1986 when Michael was 23. They reportedly sold 20 million albums and between 10 and 15 million singles. "The fact that he didn't contribute anything must have been a terrible blow to his ego," he said about Ridgley after the split.
- Michael's first solo single Careless Whisper, released in 1984 while Wham! were still together, sold six million copies worldwide.
- His first single after Wham!, I Want Your Sex, was banned before 9pm by the BBC because it "encourages young girls to participate in sex". It went on to reach number three in the UK and number two in the US.
- His debut solo album Faith sold more than 10 million copies and earned Michael a best album Grammy in 1988.
- The follow-up, Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1, contained five singles, but a video was made for just one - Freedom '90. Even then, Michael did not appear in the video himself, instead enlisting a slew of supermodels.
- He fell out spectacularly with his record company Sony in 1994 and tried to get himself released from his contract, which he 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 to be used on a greatest hits album.
In 1991, Michael met lover Brazilian Anselmo Feleppa. The two struck up a close relationship until he lost Mr Feleppa to Aids two years later. "Anyone who knew me before I met Anselmo would tell you that he opened me up completely - just in allowing myself to trust my intuition," the singer said later. The song Jesus to a Child was a tribute to Feleppa. He has said he took the loss of Mr Feleppa and then his mother Lesley in 1997 "very badly" and that it led to "a period of kind of semi-hibernation". He was outed as homosexual after propositioning an undercover police officer in a public toilet in Los Angeles in 1998. His arrest and subsequent conviction for lewd conduct resulted in a $450 fine and 80 hours community service. He later told Q magazine that "running naked up and down Oxford Street singing I Am What I Am would have been a more dignified way to come out". He made light of the incident on his single Outside, which was a hit later that year. He became open about his sexuality and has been in a relationship with Kenny Goss for more than a decade. Michael has spoken about the open nature of the relationship, and has admitted seeking "anonymous and no-strings sex" on London's Hampstead Heath.
In 2002, he released the single Shoot the Dog, a political satire with a video showing Tony Blair as George Bush's poodle. He also recorded a cover version of Don McLean's anti-war song The Grave as a protest against military action in Iraq. In 2004, the superstar released his first new album for eight years, Patience. Two years later, he embarked on first tour for 15 years and was the first performer to play at the new Wembley Stadium in London.
DRUGS, POLICE AND THE FUTURE
- He has made no secret of his use of marijuana, resulting in a number of scrapes with the law in recent years.
He was twice cautioned for possessing cannabis after being found asleep at the wheel of his car on two separate occasions in 2006. The same year, he was seen lighting what appeared to be a cannabis joint on a South Bank Show special, saying: "This stuff keeps me sane and happy." He told Desert Island Discs his marijuana use could be "a problem" and said he is "constantly trying" to smoke less of the drug. As a result of one of the incidents, he was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service and banned from driving for two years.In 2007, he was also in the headlines after being accused of colliding with three parked cars and driving off without notifying the owners. This summer, he said he wanted "a quieter life" out of the public eye and played his "Final Two" major concerts at Earls Court in London. His plans for a quieter life have not lasted long - he has been cautioned for possession of class A and class C drugs after being arrested in a public toilet.