Andrew Ridgeley on George Michael and Life After Wham!

If you weren’t a teenager in 1984, this might be hard to fathom, but some Gen Xers remember the first time they saw a Wham! .Clap Along Pop Anthem “Wake me up before we leave.”

Among them, Wham!’s thrilling frontmen George Michael and Andrew Ridgely donned big smiles and beachy shorts to deliver their infectious bops in front of a few adoring fans. playing (named after a note Ridgely once left on the family refrigerator). There were also fingerless gloves, neon face paint, and a white “Choose Life” T-shirt that had nothing to do with abortion. It was a new wave dance party for cool kids that Motley Crue thought sucked.

Ridgely, who turned 60 in January, remembers having a lot of fun.

“This was my first video ever with an audience,” he said in a recent video interview from his home in London. “The atmosphere was really very exciting and exciting.”

Ridgely and his bandmates are the subject “Wham!” The new documentary premieres on Netflix on Wednesday. Directed by Chris Smith, the film follows the British group’s rise to pop stardom. ferocious appearance After appearing on the music program “Top of the Pops” in 1982 and following the worldwide success of the albums “Fantastic” (1983) and “Make It Big” (1984), 1986’s The album ended. farewell concert in London.

The film itself is staged like a power pop video, explaining the duo’s contemporary mix of disco, funk, pop and soul on songs like: “Young Guns” “careless whisper” and “Freedom,” I cooperated with the production of Wham! He is one of the biggest pop groups of the late 20th century, even though he lasted only four years. Unlike bands that split on artistry or personal disagreements, Wham! had no ups and downs. “It was just an uptick and they decided that was the end of it,” Smith said.

They didn’t break up either, but rather “brought Wham!”, said Ridgely. We will end it the way we choose. “

Fans may be disappointed to learn that while Ridgely’s voice is heard in the documentary, he’s not seen as he is today, a debonair aristocrat with silver hair and a sassy grin. Smith said that if Michael, who died seven years ago at the age of 53, wasn’t on camera and Ridgely was on camera, the film’s mythical aspirations would have been out of balance.

After Wham!, Ridgely told me that he and Michael “don’t live in each other’s pockets anymore” the way they did when they were kids. However, their bond was fixed.

If Ridgely is tired of being known only for his friendship with Michael, he doesn’t show it. As Ridgeley said in 2017, he lit up when he said that losing Michael “made me feel like the sky was falling.” But he didn’t seem willing to talk much about his life now, other than to say that he enjoyed cycling.

The documentary includes media coverage archives and a large amount of concert footage, including scenes from the landmark 1985 show. They became the first Western pop group to perform in China.

But it was Ridgely’s mother who provided the most personal treasure. Ever since her son made music with Michael when he was in grade school, she has carefully organized and kept about 50 scrapbooks filled with her photos, reviews, and other ephemeral things. rice field. It contains snapshots from the mid-1970s when Ridgely first got to know Michael as Georgios Kyriakos Panayiotu, born to a Cypriot father and an English mother.

Ridgeley was also the son of an immigrant father (his Egyptian) and an English mother, and he instantly hit it off with a boy whom he named Yog, a nickname he often used in interviews. His scrapbook contains vivid portraits of boys who loved Queen and ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and wanted to make music their career.

“Since I was 14, the only thing I wanted to do was be in a band and write and play songs,” Ridgely said with 14-year-old enthusiasm, noting that fame and celebrity “are never important.” I didn’t,” he added. A motivating factor for both of us. “

Ridgely said he and Michael know Wham! As Michael’s songwriting began to “develop and evolve in a certain way and speed,” Wham! has a finite lifespan. I couldn’t handle it. Michael will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November.

Since Wham!’s heyday, Ridgely has struggled with the notion that he became famous simply because he was in duos with more talented artists. But the documentary traces how guitarist Ridgeley collaborated with composer-performer Michael and lays out a case in his favor.

Still, Ridgely admitted that his musical talents were no match for Michael’s. of You have the best singing voice of your generation,” he said like a proud brother.

It was 15 years ago that Michael came out after shooting the video for “Club Tropicana” (1983). did so publicly, Ridgely said, supporting him with love and a shrug. Ridgeley said Michael was more scared of how his father would react than how the public would react. I wanted Michael to come out at the time of Wham! Ridgely said he would have had him and his fans rooting for him for years.

“I didn’t think it would affect our success, and it probably won’t in the long run,” he said. “It would have been difficult for him for a while, no doubt about it. It would have required control by all of us. But after the initial sensationalism, it’s on the table. Right?”

Ridgely released after Wham! 1990 solo album it flattened out and he did short stint A successful Formula 3 driver, but otherwise out of the spotlight. British tabloids have been keeping an eye on his love life. 25 years of relationship Just like Kellen Woodward, a former member of fellow 80s pop group Bananarama, and when they took the Wham!-era nickname “Randy Andy.”

Ridgely was cast in Wham! and did not pursue fame beyond that point. Said, gave him “everything he wanted” Shirley Kempwith friends from school Wham!backup singer. Not just professionally.

“I don’t think I’ve met anyone who matches George more intellectually and with a better sense of humor than Andrew,” Kemp said. Her husband is 80’s band Martin Kemp. Spandau Ballet. “It was the best relationship I’ve ever seen with George and anyone else.”

Having worked on the all-encompassing Wham! project for the past five years, Ridgely said, “there are very few unsolved stones.” Published his memoir in 2019, “Wham! George Michael and I” and made a cameo in the romantic comedy that year “Last Christmas,” This is inspired by the name of the group chart-topping holiday singles.the second half of the month is coming “Echoes from the Edge of Heaven” Wham! single collection.

He still seems to be in awe of what he created with his best friend.

“It just didn’t feel like the artists we worshiped as gods when we were kids had the same kind of success,” he says. “We were playing at Wembley Stadium, the same place where Elton John played. morning same. ‘ But in your own mind, you are never the same. “

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