British singer and global pop culture icon George Michael has died at 53, leaving behind a legacy of music and ground-breaking music videos that have impacted generations.
Beginning back in 1981, George Michael, along with his partner Andrew Ridgeley, formed the group Wham! The UK group had its first hit in 1982 with “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” a pop riff on the emerging rap music genre, following in the footsteps of Blondie’s 1980 his “Rapture.” That song, from Wham!’s debut album “Fantastic,” set the group up for one of its biggest hits, “Bad Boys,” which introduced the world to the group’s ’50s motorcycle gang leather jacket and pompadour look merged with a slick British pop sound.
However, the band really began to take off internationally with the release of its second album, “Make It Big” in 1984, which included the hits “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper,” “Freedom,” “Last Christmas” and “Everything She Wants.” By this time the band had replaced its leather jackets with a more ’80s look fabulously coiffed hair with blazers and shirts. This is arguably the height of George Michael’s pop powers as he was both one of the biggest music stars on the planet and a major sex symbol.
The group continued its run with a compilation album called “The Final” in 1986, containing a number of fan favorites from the group. Wham! ended its incredible career as a group with “Music from the Edge of Heaven” in 1986. Although the group was still at this point, this album didn’t produce the kind of hits the Wham! enjoyed in the past. With this final release, the group seemed to merge the music and visual aesthetics of its early beginnings with its pop framing in a way that hardcore fans could appreciate.
Not long after, George Michael embarked on a successful solo career that lasted much longer than the group’s. Releasing the album Faith in 1987, George Michael fully embraced his image as a sex symbol, using the rapidly expanding medium of music video to front his songs “Father Figure,” “Faith,” “I Want Your Sex,” “One More Try” (perhaps one of George Michael’s best recorded vocal performances).
In the following years, he continued to have hit records from the albums “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” (1990), “Five Live” (1993), “Older” (1996), Songs from the Last Century (1999), Patience (2004) and “Symphonica” (2014), but most will remember him for his early outings with Wham! and his first solo album.
Below we’ve posted some of the most iconic music videos in George Michael’s history for those who want to take a moment to remember just how talented he was.