Published on Feb 15, 2011
Top quality rare video recorded from Top Of The Pops 1982. Wham! were a British duo formed in 1981 by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. They were briefly known in the United States as Wham! UK because of a naming conflict with another existing U.S. band.
Wham! sold 25 million certified records from 1982 to 1986.
Michael and Ridgeley met at Bushey Meads Comprehensive School in Bushey near the suburb of Watford in Hertfordshire, England, UK. At first they performed in a short-lived ska band called The Executive, alongside two of their former school friends David (Austin) Mortimer and Andrew Leaver. When this group split, Michael and Ridgeley eventually formed Wham!, signing with Innervision Records, a contract they later sued to be released from. Once that situation was resolved, they signed with CBS (Columbia Records in the United States and Canada, and Epic Records for the rest of the world).
Michael took on the majority of roles and responsibilities within the band—composer, producer, singer, and occasional instrumentalist—but the contribution of Ridgeley as the group's image specialist and spokesman was crucial to the band's initial success. Ridgeley convinced a reluctant George Michael that Wham! needed to change their image and their sound frequently, from the leather-clad moody singers of "Bad Boys" and "Young Guns (Go For It!)" to the more fashionable pop superstars of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."
Still teenagers, they promoted themselves as hedonistic youngsters, proud to live a carefree life without work or commitment. This was reflected in their earliest singles which, part-parody, part-social comment, briefly earned Wham! a reputation as a dance protest group .
The début record to be released by the band was "Wham Rap!" in June 1981. It was one of the first singles by a British group to include rapping, and was a double A-side including the Social Mix and the Anti-Social Mix. The record was not playlisted by BBC Radio 1 in the UK, partly because of the profanity in the Anti-Social Mix. Separate videos were recorded for each set of lyrics. "Wham! Rap" did not chart for the group, but in October 1982 "Young Guns (Go For It!)" was issued. An appeal from one youthful lad to his friend to not throw his life away so early on marriage, it also stalled outside the UK Top 40. But soon, Wham! got lucky when the BBC programme "Top of the Pops" scheduled them. An important weekly BBC chart show on television, it had to look outside the Top 40 to fill a gap created by an act which had unexpectedly pulled out of the show. Nearest to the 40 mark and still climbing, Wham! was summoned, and a phenomenon immediately began. The "Top of the Pops" performance of "Young Guns" is still considered a watershed moment in the group's history—critical acclaim is given for the 'nightclub' feel of the dance routine by all four of the performers.
For several years after becoming a solo artist, George Michael spoke in public negatively about his time in Wham!, partly because of the intense negativity of media coverage on partner Ridgeley. Michael complained of the constant pressure he felt, and he claimed that the duo had been mistreated financially. He also spoke disparagingly about the Wham! repertoire, especially the songs from the first album.
However, his perspective on the era has softened somewhat in recent years. He still performs "I'm Your Man" and "Everything She Wants," one of the more critically acclaimed songs from the Wham! era, at his solo concerts. He & Ridgely have a few reunions.
Ridgeley moved to Monaco after Wham!'s break-up and tried his hand at Formula Three motor racing. Meeting with little success, Ridgeley moved to Los Angeles to pursue his singing/acting career, the failure of which caused him to return to England in 1990. Regardless, CBS Records, having taken up the option on Wham!'s contract that specified solo albums from Michael and Ridgeley, released a guitar-and-drum-driven solo effort from Ridgeley, Son of Albert, in 1990. His brother Paul—a frequent percussionist for Bananarama—played drums on the album. Singles included "Shake" and "Red Dress." CBS declined the option of a second album.
In Anthony Horowitz's book Eagle Strike, the main villain, singer Damian Cray is the founding member of a band called "Slam!," a parody of Wham!
The 2007 film Music and Lyrics features Hugh Grant as a Ridgeley-like former member of an 80s music group called PoP!.
On 21 November 2009, there was a Wham!-themed night on television's The X Factor. George later appeared on the show's final episode, performing a duet of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" with finalist and eventual winner Joe McElderry. Please visit my other Channel. Keep Rockin!.
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