Of all the celebrity deaths this year, and there really has been an unprecedented amount, the passing of George Michael has upset me the most. I happened to mention this on Social Media – which is of course the way we now express our feelings – and I was greeted with “Well, he wasn’t as talented as Prince” or “He was no Bowie”. This really shouldn’t be a “My dead celebrity is better than yours” competition.
George Michael was a huge part of my youth. Oddly, I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Wham!’s Young Guns (Go For It). I was sitting in a Port Talbot car park with school friends, discussing our A Levels and future plans. The song made me smile. Yes it was a sort of anti-marriage and anti-commitment song, but at that age, the line;
Wise guys realise there’s danger in emotional ties
did resonate with me, and I decided there and then I wouldn’t get tied down by a girlfriend. Of course the fact every girl I’d asked out had said ‘no’ made the decision easier.
I loved dancing to that song. Loved it. As I did to Bad Boys, Wake me Up Before You Go-Go, and, I’ll admit it, Club Tropicana. Even though I am one of the few virtually tone deaf Welsh people in the world – and therefore an embarrassment to my nation – I learned all the words to Careless Whisper and ‘sang’ it at every opportunity. That was also the song that played at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1984 when I slow-danced with, and then kissed, the girl from school, on whom I’d had a crush since day one.
I knew George Michael was gay before it was publicly known. My friend’s sister was a model and she was constantly at the clubs he attended. It was known in the industry but kept hidden. I wonder if that could/would still be kept as a secret today?
I really enjoyed his solo album Faith. The first single from it, I Want Your Sex, was fantastic and the banning of it by many radio stations made me laugh and reminded me of the ban on Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood four years earlier. The title track, Faith, was another great song and dance track – although by the time it came out I was beginning to lose the moves I’d had for the earlier Wham! songs.
I never met George Michael but I ‘knew’ if we had ever met we’d have been great mates. I was supposed to have seen him perform live at Wembley in March 1991 but at the last minute I couldn’t go to the concert. I therefore missed that wonderful duet with Elton John. And now I will never have the chance of seeing him sing live.
Being a comedian, when people die or there are tragedies, I think of jokes. It’s not to be nasty or disrespectful, it’s just the way my mind works. I don’t know if it’s a defence mechanism or just that I need an emotional outlet but it always happens. However, that didn’t happen this time. Although, having read the “Careless Whisper” and “Last Christmas” ‘jokes’ on Facebook, Twitter etc it’s clear that others haven’t had that same problem.
So why has his passing upset me so much? Is it that he was still relatively young and so making me once again face my own mortality? Or is it that I feel another part of my youth is fading away, like the family photo in Back to the Future? Whatever it is, it’s had a huge effect.
So RIP George Michael.
I am now going to put on my CHOOSE LIFE T-shirt – which sadly is no longer over-sized – and I am going to dance again….