Name at birth: Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou
Scruffy-sexy and sultry, George Michael was the bridge between 1970s glam rock and the sex-pop of the 1990s. With school chum Andrew Ridgeley he formed the pop group Wham!, and they leapt to stardom in Britain with the 1982 single "Young Guns (Go For It!). A string of hits followed while Michael, first among equals, also began a successful solo career with the 1984 single "Careless Whisper." Wham! disbanded after a farewell concert at Wembley Stadium in 1986. Michael quickly remade his image, shifting from clean-cut pop star to leather-clad, stubble-chinned hunk. His best-selling solo album Faith (1987) won a Grammy for Best Album and a BBC ban for the saucy video for the single "I Want Your Sex." Michael's 1990 followup album, Listen Without Prejudice, included the MTV-ready single Freedom 90. Wrangles with record companies slowed Michael in the early 1990s, and his embarrassing 1998 arrest for "public lewdness" in a Los Angeles park lavatory eventually led him to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality. He released the album Older in 1996 and returned to action in 2004 with the successful album Patience, after which he announced his semi-retirement from the music business, saying he would release future tunes for free over the Internet.
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