Childhood: Michael was born Georgios-Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, North London. His father was Kyriacos Panayiotou, a Greek Cypriot restaurateur who moved to England in the 1950s and changed his name to Jack Panos. Michael's mother, Lesley Angold Harrison, was a former dancer who died of cancer in 1997. Michael spent the majority of his childhood in North London, living in the home his parents bought shortly after his birth. In his early teens, the family moved to Radlett and Michael attended Bushey Meads School.
Friends & Relationships: Michael was initially private about his sexual orientation, with rumours of relationships with high-profile women such as Brooke Shields, Whoopi Goldberg, and Melissa Megginson making him common tabloid fodder during his Wham! career.
These persisted into his solo career, but Michael had already established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, whom he had met at the 1991 concert "Rock in Rio". Feleppa died of an AIDS-related brain hemorrhage in 1993. Michael's single "Jesus to a Child" is a tribute to Feleppa (he consistently dedicates it to him before performing it live), as is his 1996 album Older.
In a 2007 interview, Michael said that he kept his homosexuality secret due to worries over the effect it would have on his mother. Questions of his sexual orientation persisted in public until April 7, 1998, when he was arrested for "engaging in a lewd act" in a public toilet in a park in Beverly Hills, California. He was arrested by an undercover policeman named Marcelo Rodríguez, a sting operation using so-called "pretty police". His arrest and subsequent conviction for lewd conduct resulted in a $450 fine and 80 hours community service.
After the incident, Michael became open about his sexuality and his relationship with Kenny Goss, a former cheerleader coach and sports clothing executive from Dallas, Texas, and his partner since June 1996. Goss opened the Goss Gallery in May 2005 in Dallas, which shows contemporary art, including those collected by the couple. They have homes in London and Dallas.
Work: He began his career by forming a short-lived ska band called The Executive with his best friends Andrew Ridgeley, Paul Ridgeley, Andrew Leaver, and David Mortimer (aka David Austin).
It was not until he formed the duo Wham! together with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981 that success came to Michael. The band's first album, Fantastic, was released going to number 1 in the UK, and within a year, they had released their classic debut single, "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)". Their second single, "Young Guns (Go For It!)", became the first in a string of Top 10 hits in the UK singles chart. They followed with titles such as "Bad Boys", and "Club Tropicana". Their second album Make It Big was their breakthrough, eventually selling 6 million copies in the US alone and made them international superstars. Singles from that album included "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Freedom", "Last Christmas/Everything She Wants", and "Careless Whisper", which was released as a Michael solo effort.
George Michael desired to create music targeted to a more sophisticated audience than the duo's primarily teenage fanbase. The first step of his solo career, in early 1987, was a duet with soul music icon Aretha Franklin. "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" was a one-off project that helped Michael achieve an ambition by singing with one of his favorite artists, and it reached number one on both the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100 upon its release.
For Michael, it became his third consecutive solo number-one in the UK from three releases, following 1984's "Careless Whisper" (though the single was actually from the Wham! album "Make It Big") and 1986's "A Different Corner". The single was also the first Michael had recorded as a solo artist which he had not written himself. The co-writer, Simon Climie, was an unknown at the time, although he would go on to have success as a performer with the band Climie Fisher in 1988. With this song, George won a Grammy Award in 1988 for Best R&B Performance - Duo or Group with Vocal.
The autumn of 1987 saw the release of Michael's first solo album, Faith. In addition to playing a large number of instruments on the album, he wrote and produced every track on the recording, except for one, which he co-wrote.
The album reached #1 in the UK and in several markets worldwide. In the United States, the album had 51 non-consecutive weeks inside the Billboard 200 Top 10, including 12 weeks at #1. "Faith" had many hits, four of which ("Faith," "Father Figure," "One More Try," and "Monkey") reached #1.
Eventually, "Faith" reached Diamond certification by the RIAA for sales of 10 million copies in the US. To date, global sales of Faith are more than 20 million units.
Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was released in September 1990. Following the massive worldwide commercial success of Faith, this album found Michael trying to create a new image for himself as a serious-minded artist — the title is a clear indication of his desire to be taken more seriously as a songwriter.
"Mother's Pride" gained significant airplay in the United States during the first Gulf War in 1991, often with radio stations mixing in callers' tributes to soldiers with the music. It reached number 46 on Billboard Hot 100 with only airplay.
In the end Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 sold around 8 million copies.
George Michael performed at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on April 20, 1992 at London's Wembley Stadium. The concert was a tribute to the life of the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, with all proceeds going to AIDS research.
In November 1994, at the first edition of the MTV European Music Awards George Michael appeared after a long seclusion, giving a touching performance of a brand-new song, "Jesus to a Child". The song was a melancholy tribute to his lover Anselmo Feleppa, who died in March 1993.
The second single, out in April 1996, was "Fastlove", an energetic tune about wanting gratification and fulfilment without commitment. The song was somewhat unusual for a pop song and reached #1 in the UK singles chart, spending three weeks at the top spot. In the US, "Fastlove" peaked at #8, and would go on to be the last time that George Michael reached the top 10 in the US charts.
In October 1996, George performed a concert at Three Mills Studios, London for MTV Unplugged. It was his first long performance in years, and in the audience was George's beloved mum. The following year, George was dealt another heart-wrenching blow when his mother died of cancer.
Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael is a greatest hits collection released in 1998 (see 1998 in music). Patience debuted at number one on the UK album charts and at number two in Australia on March 22, 2004. George appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show on May 26, 2004 to promote the album. This marked his first US television appearance in over 10 years.
Twentyfive was George Michael's second greatest hits album, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his music career. Released in November 2006 by SonyBMG, it debuted at number-one in the UK.
During the 2005 Live 8 concert, George Michael joined Paul McCartney on stage, harmonizing on the Beatles' classic "Drive My Car".
In 2006, George Michael started his first tour in 15 years, 25 Live. The tour began in Madrid, Spain, on September 27 and finished in December at Wembley Arena in England. According to his website, the 80-show tour was seen by 1.3 million fans.
On June 9, 2007 George became the first artist to perform live at the newly renovated Wembley Stadium in London, where he was later fined US$250,000 for overrunning the show for 13 minutes.
On March 25, 2008 a third leg of the 25 Live Tour was announced for North America. This is Michael's first tour of North America in 17 years.
George Michael made his American acting debut by playing a guardian angel to Jonny Lee Miller's character on Eli Stone, a TV series that was broadcast in the USA.
In 2000, George Michael joined Melissa Etheridge, Garth Brooks, Queen Latifah, the Pet Shop Boys, and k.d. lang, to perform in Washington, D.C. as part of 'Equality Rocks' - a concert to benefit the Human Rights Campaign.
Michael has often taken a socially conscious stance. In 1984, he sang as part of Band Aid on the charity song "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for famine relief in Ethiopia. Michael donated the royalties from "Last Christmas" to Band Aid and subsequently sang with Elton John at Live Aid (the Band Aid charity concert) in 1985.
The proceeds from the single Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me were divided among 10 different charities for children, AIDS and education.
George is supporting a campaign to help raise US$32 million (GBP15 million) for terminally ill children.
George Michael ranks as Britain's 10th richest musician with an amassed personal fortune said to be £70 to £100 million in assets, real estate, and currency. George owns several homes all over the world, including one in Highgate, London, one in Dallas, Texas, and one in Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.
On January 16, 2008, Michael signed a "no-holds-barred" multi-million-pound contract with HarperCollins about an autobiography which he is to write "entirely himself".
American Music Awards
• 1989 - Favourite Male Vocalist (Pop/Rock)
• 1989 - Favourite Male Vocalist (Soul/R&B)
• 1989 - Favourite Album (Faith) (Soul/R&B)
• 1988 - Best British Male
• 1991 - Best British Album (Listen Without Prejudice, Vol 1)
• 1997 - Best British Male
• 1987 - Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Duo or Group ("I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)")
• 1989 - Album of the Year (Faith)
• 1999 - 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made: "Freedom '90" (#18), "Faith" (#95)
• 2000 - Rolling Stone and MTV - 100 Greatest Pop Songs: "Faith" (#53), "Careless Whisper" (#89)
MTV Video Music Awards
• 1988 - Best Direction in a Video ("Father Figure") (George Michael and Andy Morahan)
• 1989 - Video Vanguard (Career Achievement)
• 1993 - International Viewer's Choice Award—MTV Europe ("Killer/Papa Was A Rolling Stone")
• 1996 - International Viewer's Choice Award—MTV Europe ("Fastlove")
• 2001 - 100 Greatest Videos: "Freedom '90" (#12)
• 2002 - 100 Sexiest Artists (#73)
• 2003 - 100 Best Songs of the Last 25 Years: "Faith" (#51)