George Michael was a British pop singer and former member of Wham! with his school friend, Andrew Ridgeley. His first solo single, "Careless Whisper", was released when he was still in the duo and sold about six million copies worldwide.
As of 2010, Michael has sold over 100 million records worldwide and his 1987 debut solo album, Faith, has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and made several records and achievements in the United States. Michael has garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists".
Michael has won numerous music awards throughout his 30 year career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.
In 1987, Michael released his first solo album, Faith. The first single released from the album was "I Want Your Sex", which was banned by many radio stations in the UK and US, due to its sexually suggestive lyrics. MTV would broadcast the video, featuring celebrity make-up artist Kathy Jeung in a basque and suspenders, only during the late night hours. Michael argued that the act was beautiful if the sex was monogamous. "I Want Your Sex" reached No.2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and at No.3 in Britain.
The second single, "Faith", would become one of his most popular songs. The song hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and maintained that position for four consecutive weeks. It also reached no.2 in the UK Singles Chart. The famous video provided some definitive images of the 1980s music industry in the process—Michael in shades, leather jacket, cowboy boots, and Levi's jeans, playing a guitar near a classic-design jukebox. Eventually, "Faith" received Diamond certification by the RIAA for sales of 10 million copies in the US. To date, global sales of Faith are more than 25 million units.
Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was released in September 1990 and Michael refused to make any kind of promotion for this album, including no music videos for the singles released. The first single, "Praying for Time", concerned social ills and injustice. Michael did not appear in this video or any subsequent videos for the album. The album spent a total of 88 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and was certified 4 times Platinum by the BPI. The album produced 5 UK singles, which were released quickly, within an at eight-month period: "Praying for Time", "Waiting for That Day", "Freedom! '90", "Heal the Pain", and "Cowboys and Angels".
"Freedom '90" was the second of only two of its singles to be supported by a music video. The song alludes to his struggles with his artistic identity, and prophesied his efforts shortly thereafter to end his recording contract with Sony Music. As if to prove the song's sentiment, Michael refused to appear in the video (directed by David Fincher), and instead recruited supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, and Cindy Crawford to appear in and lip sync in his stead. It also featured the reduction of his sex symbol status. Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 sold approximately 8 million copies.
The expected follow-up album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2, was scrapped due to Michael's lawsuit with Sony. Among Michael's complaints was that Sony had not completely supported the release of his second album, resulting in its poor performance in the US as compared to Faith. Sony responded that Michael's refusal to appear in promotional videos had caused the bad response. Michael ended the idea for Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2 and donated three songs to the charity project Red Hot + Dance, for the Red Hot Organization which raised money for AIDS awareness.
Five Live, was released in 1993 and features five or six tracks performed by George Michael, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield. "Somebody to Love" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives" were recorded at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. "Killer", "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", and "Calling You" were all live performances recorded during his "Cover to Cover Tour" from 1991. All proceeds from the sale of the EP benefited the Mercury Phoenix Trust.
In 1994, George Michael appeared at the first MTV Europe Music Awards show, where he gave a touching performance of a brand-new song, "Jesus to a Child". The song was a melancholy tribute to his lover, Anselmo Feleppa, who had died in March 1993.
His next single, which was released in April 1996, was "Fastlove" which was supported by a futuristic virtual reality-related video. It scored No. 1 in the UK singles chart, spending three weeks at the top spot. In the US, "Fastlove" peaked at No. 8, his most recent single to reach the top 10 on the US charts.
Following "Fastlove", Michael finally released Older, his first studio album in six years and only the third in his ten year solo career. In 1996, Michael was voted 'Best British Male', at the MTV Europe Music Awards and the Brit Awards.
Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael was Michael's first solo greatest hits collection released in 1998. The collection of 28 songs are separated into two halves, with each containing a particular theme and mood. The first CD, titled "For the Heart", predominantly contains Michael's successful ballads, while the second CD, "For the Feet", consists mainly of his popular dance tunes.
Ladies & Gentlemen was an instant success, peaking at number one on the UK Albums Chart for 8 weeks. It has spent over 200 weeks in the UK Charts, and it is the 38 best-selling album of all time in the UK. It is certified 7 times platinum in the United Kingdom and Multi-Platinum in the United States, and it's George Michael's most commercially successful album in his homeland having sold more than 2.8 million copies. To date, the album has reached worldwide sales of approximately 15 million copies.
Songs from the Last Century is a studio album of cover tracks. It was released in 1999 and consists of old standards, plus new interpretations of more recent popular songs such as "Roxanne", "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"; and the Frank Sinatra classic "Where or When".
His first single from the Patience album, "Freeek!", was released in 2002 and was successful in Europe going to number one in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Denmark and reaching the top 10 in the UK and the top 5 in Australia. It made 22 charts around the world. However, his next single "Shoot the Dog" proved to be highly controversial as it was highly critical of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in the leadup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Patience was released in 2004 and it went straight to number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, and became one of the fastest selling albums in the UK, selling over 200,000 copies in the first week alone. In Australia, it reached number 2. It reached the Top 5 on most European charts, and peaked at number 12 in the United States, selling over 500,000 copies to earn a Gold certification from the RIAA.
Twenty Five was George Michael's second greatest hits album, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his music career and was released in November 2006. The album contains songs chiefly from George Michael's solo career but also from his earlier days in Wham! It comes in two formats: two CDs or a limited edition three-CD set. The DVD version of Twenty Five contains 40 videos on two discs, including seven with Wham!.
Michael died on December 25, 2016.