On Air Now
The Smooth Late Show with Martin Collins 10pm - 1am
22 December 2021, 14:08
Video footage of Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael standing in front of 72,000 screaming fans at Wembley arena in 1986 for the very last time was a huge moment for the two Wham! stars.
George Michael's final appearance with Andrew Ridgeley before Wham! broke up in 1986 was a pivotal time for the young singer who went as far as to write to his fans confirming it was "the most important day of his life".
After just four years after becoming the most famous band in the world, George and Andrew decided to go their separate ways with an enormous 'farewell' concert at Wembley Arena, much to the despair - and delight - of their millions of fans.
Following on from the release of album The Final, Wham!'s last concert was held on June 28, 1986 as the last chance for the band to say goodbye before going their separate ways.
George Michael would leave Wham! and go on to become one of the biggest singer-songwriters of recent times, while Andrew Ridgeley would chose a quieter life mainly out of the public eye, yet before doing so the two young performers each wrote a final last letter to their fans.
Published in the foreword of the Wham! Final Concert program, the boys' two letters were published in full and sent as a last goodbye and thank you to their dedicated followers.
In extracts taken from the program, George Michael wrote in his letter: "Today will be the most important day of my life. Hopefully it will also be one of the best.
"Whatever else, it will represent the end of four years of something most people don’t believe in. A dream come true. It’s a cliché, but I can’t think of a better way to describe what has happened to Andrew and me since the beginning of 1982," he said.
"Someone or something has been smiling on us over these four years, and sometimes I feel it all happened almost too fast, too quickly. There hasn’t really been time to appreciate or savour things."
"If I sound like I’m complaining, please don’t get me wrong. I still can’t believe my luck. I just wish I could do it again, in slow motion, to take it all in. Because something’s telling me that whatever lies ahead, nothing will mean as much to me as this group has.
"Four years may not be the longest lifespan for a band, but I think that Andrew and I can safely say that we put more care and hard work into that time than most bands put into a decade.
"In return, we have seen loyalty and support beyond belief. The idea that today, 72,000 people left their homes to see Wham! say goodbye is one that will only fully come home to me when I stand on stage facing you all. The fact that the ticket demand would have required us to say goodbye several times is the greatest compliment that any artists could ever hope for.
"Thank you everyone. Thank you Andrew. Today will probably be the best day of my life – so far. George Michael"
At 7.35pm, after an eight-minute introduction, the opening bars to 'Everything She Wants' began and from behind a huge black curtain emblazoned with 'The Final' George Michael appeared, dressed in all black with his signature sunglasses and danced to the ecstatic crowd.
Andrew Ridgeley then walked on stage accompanied by singers Pepsi and Shirlie and proceeded to walk down the walkway before shedding his long black coat.
George Michael turned and spoke to the crowd, saying: "This is the best thing I've ever looked at. We've got four years of thank-yous to say this evening... and I know we're going to enjoy saying them. So let's get started!"
Wham! performed hits including 'Club Tropicana', 'Battlestations', 'Heartbeat' and 'Bad Boys' before Elton John appeared on stage dressed as Ronald McDonald and they all performed 'Candle In The Wind' for the sold-out stadium, before the boys continued singing 'Credit Card Baby', 'Like A Baby', 'Love Machine' and 'Where Did Your Heart Go?'
Wham! then sang 'Last Christmas', 'Wham! Rap', 'A Different Corner' and 'Freedom', before coming back for an encore of 'Careless Whisper', 'Young Guns', 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' before being joined by Simon Le Bon for the final of 'I'm Your Man'.