Wham!, George Michael and Me: A Memoir by Andrew Ridgeley released October 2019 was not at all what I was expecting…but in a lot of ways, that’s a good thing!
I’ll let you all in on a little secret as to how I pick some of the books I read – when I see a suggestion for some music related book on Amazon, I’ll click on it to see when it was released. After that, I click on the Kindle version, then click on “See Inside” (above the picture). Usually, there is a search button, so I enter in “Beatles” to see if there is any references to our Fab Four. So before you judge me for reading the story of Wham!, know that “Beatles” was mentioned at least 3 times and Paul McCartney at least once.
If you had asked me to tell you about Wham! before I read this book, I would have gotten the story all wrong. I was in my early 20s when Wham! hit the charts and I was one of the many clubbers dancing to their music. I even have a very distinct memory of sitting at a bar with a friend and watching the video of ‘I Want Your Sex’ playing on a television in the corner. I would have guessed they were just two semi-musically literate, pretty boys from England that were discovered by some A&R person from a record company looking for the next big MTV hit. Not quite…
There was a sudden change in mood in the classroom. Conversations regarding Pan’s People, David Essex and those awkward summer kisses were shushed when our form tutor, Mrs. Parker, entered the room, trailed by a nervous-looking boy. Dressed in a pristine, box-fresh school uniform, he wore a pair of oversized steel-framed specs. His hair, which looked like a dressing-up wig, appeared to have been made from coarse man-made fibre. And the pressure of facing down a room of new classmates had clearly shaken him.
This was Andrew Ridgeley’s first impression of an awkward and chubby, 13 year old Georgios Panayiotou (aka George Michael). On that day, he would volunteer to show the new kid around and meet his lifelong best friend. The two would become inseparable and later become Wham! despites George’s parents best efforts to keep the Andrew away because they felt he was a bad influence on their straight A son who they dreamed of going on to a university.
This book is Andrew Ridgeley’s story of his friendship George Michael and how they created Wham! He respectfully avoids any controversy about George’s sexuality, dating habits or history. He does disclose when George came out to him and his response. Andrew does reference George’s autobiography, Bare, a few times to clear up some varying points of view, but stays true to respecting George’s story and estate.
They were best friends until the end. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!