As the energetically punctuated Wham!, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley combined youthful high spirits with a polished union of disco and soul to become one of the defining pop acts of the 1980s. Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (Michael) and Andrew John Ridgeley first met in secondary school as 12-year-olds back in 1975. Their 1981 debut as Wham!, the pop-rap snack “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?),” preached the joy of life on welfare amid rampant British unemployment. As the group’s principal songwriter and frontman, Michael’s exuberant turn on “Young Guns (Go for It!)” precipitated Wham!’s vibrant, post-disco debut, Fantastic, in 1983, which parlayed the duo’s carefree vigor into the glistening hedonism of “Club Tropicana.” Returning in 1984 with the emphatic “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” the group folded Detroit soul into an effervescent pop marvel that sent Wham! to the summit of the U.S. pop charts. Michael took over production on their follow-up album, Make It Big, whose modernized Motown sound on the brooding boogie cut “Everything She Wants” and the resplendent pop-soul of “Careless Whisper” cemented his standing as one of pop’s foremost performer/composers. Ending 1984 with the career-defining synth-pop torch song “Last Christmas,” Wham! harked back to their feel-good beginnings with “I’m Your Man” in 1985 before amicably parting to allow Michael to focus on his solo career. Their final album, 1986’s Music from the Edge of Heaven, featuring their last single “The Edge of Heaven,” wrote the postscript on a prodigious four-year passage that flourished into an indelible pop legacy.
ORIGINBushey, Hertfordshire, England