How Wham! got their name: Teenage George Michael reveals story in interview clip from 1983
4 November 2020, 13:39
George Michael was appearing on Countdown Australia in the early eighties when he opened up about the inspiration behind the name Wham! and the early days of the band.
Dressed in a brown leather jacket and striped jumper, the 'Careless Whisper' singer was just at the start of what would be a highly successful music career.
Michael and Ridgeley became best friends instantly when they met at school and were inseparable. When their education finished, they continued to stick together and wrote music while both on the dole, George reveals, before landing a record contract.
But it was only after they'd signed the contract that they adopted the name Wham!, and recalling the moment Ridgeley suggested the name brings a smile to Michael's face...
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"I think it was Andrew actually, originally," George says as he discusses the name's origins.
"We were in a club, dancing, and we were kind of doing this like formation dance and having a laugh," he continues.
"Andy started shouting something about wham bam, and all this, you know," he smiles as he recalls.
"And we thought that would be a good name for a group."
But in the same breath, George goes on to reveal that the pair actually threw the name out.
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"We thought no, we've got to think of something better than that," The 'Club Tropicana' singer explains.
But after some time, the duo were drawn back to the name as it felt fitting for their music.
"It seemed right for what we were doing," George concludes.
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Earlier in the interview, the music star opened up about the early days of the band and how their music was initially discovered.
"So how did you get the record contract then?" the interviewer asks. "How did you sort of make London know there's Wham!?"
The question makes the music star smile, as he honestly responds: "We didn't really.
"The actual demo tape that got us the contract was about four minutes long."
The most surprising part of Michael's story is how much the tape, which essentially launched their music career, cost to make.
"We did it for £20, in Andrew's front room," he reveals, "to try and get someone to give us, you know because we had no money, being on the dole.
"We wanted someone to give us the money to make a proper demo. And we got a contract off it, which we were really amazed with."
1983 saw Wham! release four singles, including a reissue of 'Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)', 'Bad Boys', 'Club Tropicana' and 'Club Fantastic Megamix'.
The year before they'd released two singles: 'Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)' and 'Young Guns (Go for It!)'.
For the pair, dancing and clubbing were a big source of inspiration for music, George also reveals.
"I think that shows in the records," he says, before adding uncertainly: "hopefully it shows."
One moment in the interview which garners a big laugh from the star is when the interviewer tells him he's been dubbed as an "English John Travolta".
But George isn't sure he agrees.
"I haven't got any white suits in my cupboard, or anything like that," he quips.
As the interview draws to a close, George teases the release of an upcoming album, which is untitled at the time, and the single 'Bad Boys'.
"It's another very tongue-in-cheek look at teenagers, I suppose," he describes of the single. "Of which I'm still, luckily, a part."
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After some joking about whether Michael himself is a "bad boy", the singer briefly touches upon his love life.
"I've not actually got that serious with anybody, no," he responds.
"I've been lucky enough to escape that."