"George Michael has a strong pop-soul voice and he writes vexingly catchy songs....Wham! have survived where others have not simply because they have kept working, never making the fatal assumption that they could lay off for a year, then pick up where they left off." ('Wham!,' an Observer article, reprinted in The Olivetti Chronicles, Corgi edition, pp.448-9.)
Wham! were an early to mid-80s pop duo consisting of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. (They were backed by female duo Pepsi & Shirlie, who scored a further two top 10 hits in their own right in 1987 after Wham!'s disbandment. Pepsi had replaced DC Lee, who went on to work with Paul Weller's Style Council.) During their active period, from 1982-6, they accrued eleven top 40 chart hits including two number ones in the UK, one of which (Last Christmas) has re-entered four times during festive periods. They were one of the first British acts to include rapping in their music, in the debut release 'Wham! Rap (Enjoy What You Do),' which unusually for them had a social message about unemployment. Lack of airplay meant that this initially failed to chart, as did 'Young Guns (Go For It),' until a memorable Top Of The Pops appearance propelled it to almost reach pole position. They split up amicably in 1986, with Michael going on to a phenomenally successful solo career and Ridgeley retiring from the music scene to a domestic life with his girlfriend Keren Woodward (Bananarama). In 2016, George Michael died in his Oxfordshire home.
Links To Peel
Despite the fact that their upbeat, uncomplicated lyrics reflected an obsession with partying and clubbing and the tunes were unabashed pop, JP played them on at least one occasion, his comment then mirroring his own attitude that music did not have to be unpopular to be good, and introduced several of their appearances on TOTP. He also attended their overblown final concert at Wembley on 28 June 1986, writing a not altogether critical piece on it for the Observer, and calling it "instructive." He was rather dismissive of Ridgeley's contribution to the act,  when in fact it was at Ridgeley's instigation that the duo changed their image twice, thereby contributing to their success. However, Peel had met him and judged him to be "rather a nice bloke,"  and it is undoubtedly Ridgeley that John is referring to in this interview:
"One of the blokes out of Wham! - I never know which one's which - is a really nice lad. I remember the Christmas before last I spent 2 or 3 hours talking to him at some awful T.V. thing and he was really nice." (Baby Bites Back fanzine interview, 1984.)
Festive Fifty Entries
- 22 September 1982: 'Young Guns (Go For It) (7")' (Innervision) (JP: '...and the first person to write in and say 'you shouldn't have played that, you should have played the UK Subs instead' will be turned into a toad. You've been warned!')
- 25 December 1987: Last Christmas (7”) Epic
Top Of The Pops
- 18 November 1982 (TOTP): 'Young Guns (Go For It)'
- 04 August 1983 (TOTP): 'Club Tropicana'
- 07 June 1984 (TOTP): 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go'
- 03 January 1985 (TOTP): 'Everything She Wants'
- 25 December 1985 (TOTP): 'I'm Your Man'