Andrew Ridgeley admits he “misses” his “great friend” George Michael, and felt “privileged” to be able to pay tribute to his childhood pal and former Wham! bandmate at the 2017 BRIT Awards
Andrew Ridgeley “misses” his “great friend” George Michael.
The 56-year-old musician met the late ‘Fast Love’ hitmaker – who died in December 2016 at the age of 53 – at school and went on to form pop group Wham! in 1981, achieving worldwide chart success before eventually going their separate ways in 1986.
Andrew admits his grief will never fully go away but he felt “honoured” and “privileged” to be able to pay tribute to his childhood friend during the 2017 BRIT Awards, alongside their backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie, because there hadn’t been a “public expression of grief” until that moment.
Speaking on ‘The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show’, Andrew said: “At times I miss him, anyone would of a great friend. But it was a real privilege to be able to give tribute to him at that time and place. There hadn’t really been a public expression of grief so it was really important, it was the perfect context in which to do so. It was a great honour to do that and personally for me, it was something that I really had to do and it will live as an enduring memory.”
Andrew recalled how he and George’s homemade cassette, that was played to record labels in a bid to get a deal, consisted of the three tracks ‘Wham Rap (Enjoy What You Do)’, “half of ‘Club Tropicana'” and a segment of ‘Careless Whisper’.
He added: “Hearing it, one would have thought it had taken ten minutes because there wasn’t much of it. The demo tape we got signed on was composed of three songs, ‘Wham Rap’, half of ‘Club Tropicana’ and verse and the chorus of ‘Careless Whisper’ and we thought that was good enough. There were a few that turned us down.”
The ‘Everything She Wants’ hitmaker also opened up about how “success” came very “quickly” for the band once they were signed to independent label Innervision Records in 1982.
He said: “The success came very quickly and it was a different age so one’s awareness, especially in a global sense wasn’t quite the same as it was these days because of social media and because of the huge variety of media that people are exposed to.
“We were in a little bubble to a degree, but you’d never really know what was going on elsewhere, you’d done a tour in the States and then you wouldn’t really know what the reaction was out of the shows because it wasn’t immediate on Instagram and Twitter. It wasn’t perhaps as broad as it is these days, it was fab though.”
In 1985, Wham! embarked on a 10-day visit to China during their world tour and became the first “contemporary band” to perform in the communist country, something that Andrew is still proud of.
He said: “It was an extraordinary experience. We were the first contemporary band, I think The Chieftains had been there – [who were] an Irish folk cross pop cross over – we were the first kind of pop act as people would understand it to go to China, it was still very much a communist country and was in the process of industrialisation and it was very, very tightly controlled – we were guests of the Chinese Youth Workers Party.”