Andrew Ridgeley "misses" George Michael: Wham! bandmate opens up over grief

3 May 2019, 11:30

Andrew Ridgeley has opened up about his grief over George Michael's death
Andrew Ridgeley has opened up about his grief over George Michael's death. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

Andrew Ridgeley has opened up about "missing" his "great friend" George Michael and giving fans a platform for a "public expression of grief" at the 2017 Brit Awards.

The 53-year-old Wham! star told the BBC that his grief over George Michael's death would never truly fade.

Andrew up about his years in Wham! with the 'Careless Whisper' singer and his tribute to George - alongside backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie - at the 2017 Brit Awards.

Andrew said: "At times I miss him, anyone would of a great friend. But it was a real privilege to be able to give tribute to him at that time and place.

George Michael;Andrew Ridgeley
George Michael;Andrew Ridgeley. Picture: Getty

"There hadn't really been a public expression of grief so it was really important, it was the perfect context in which to do so," he added.

Read more: George Michael "sang to dying secret first love" in audience at Freddie Mercury tribute in 1992

"It was a great honour to do that and personally for me, it was something that I really had to do and it will live as an enduring memory."

Watch: George Michael's last concert - his final words were heartbreakingly poignant

Andrew - who had been friends with George since school - opened opened up about the pair's struggle to get a record deal for Wham! and in the end getting signed with just two and a half songs recorded on a cassette tape.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in 1984
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in 1984. Picture: Getty

Speaking of the demo, he said: "Hearing it, one would have thought it had taken ten minutes, because there wasn't much of it.

"Our demo tape we got signed on was composed of three songs, 'Wham Rap', half of 'Club Tropicana' and a verse and the chorus of 'Careless Whisper' and we thought that was good enough. There were a few that turned us down."

Read more: George Michael's secret outstanding acts of generosity revealed after death

After being signed to independent label Innervision Records in 1982, George Michael's bandmate recalled that success came very quickly and the band were "in a bubble", so weren't quite aware of how popular they were.

Andrew said: "The success came very quickly and it was a different age so one's awareness, especially in a global sense wasn't quite the same as it was these days because of social media and because of the huge variety of media that people are exposed to.

Read: Princess Diana's cherished friendships with George Michael, Bowie and Freddie Mercury in pictures

"We were in a little bubble to a degree, but you'd never really know what was going on elsewhere, you'd done a tour in the States and then you wouldn't really know what the reaction was out of the shows because it wasn't immediate on Instagram and Twitter. It wasn't perhaps as broad as it is these days, it was fab though."

Andrew, Shirlie and Pepsi paying tribute to George Michael at the 2017 Brit Awards
Andrew, Shirlie and Pepsi paying tribute to George Michael at the 2017 Brit Awards. Picture: Getty

In 1985 Wham! became the first "contemporary group" to visit and perform in China, something that has left an impression on Andrew to this day.

Read: George Michael's heartbreaking poetry at 11-years-old proves the star's early talent

Speaking about their 10-day tour, he said: "It was an extraordinary experience.

"We were the first contemporary band, I think The Chieftains had been there – [who were] an Irish folk cross pop cross over – we were the first kind of pop act as people would understand it to go to China, it was still very much a communist country and was in the process of industrialisation and it was very, very tightly controlled – we were guests of the Chinese Youth Workers Party."