Forgotten photos of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley at the height of their Wham! fame

28 May 2019, 16:33

George Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley in pictures
George Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley in pictures. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

One of the most successful bands of the '80s George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! changed the face of pop music forever selling over 30 million certified records between 1982 and 1986.

The duo, who formed Wham! in 1981 after meeting at school, had previously performed together in a ska band called The Exclusive before branching out together to start their own band.

See more: George Michael impressing David Bowie and Seal with Freddie Mercury cover is so powerful - video

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley recorded just two and a half songs on a cassette tape and proceeded to send their demo to record labels.

Wham! pop group at Daily Record Offices, Glasgow, Scotland, 1983
Wham! pop group at Daily Record Offices, Glasgow, Scotland, 1983. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley at the Wham! The Farewell Concert at Wembley Stadium, London on 28th June 1986
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley at the Wham! The Farewell Concert at Wembley Stadium, London on 28th June 1986. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! backstage on there farewell concert 'The Final' at Wembley Stadium, London, 26th June 1986
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! backstage on their farewell concert 'The Final' at Wembley Stadium, London, 26th June 1986. Picture: Getty

Speaking about getting signed in the early years of Wham! Andrew Ridgeley recently told the BBC that in hindsight the recording was unpolished.

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

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

"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."

See more: George Michael behind the scenes: Pictures of the off-duty star in his early years

After being signed to label Innervision in 1982, Wham!'s success quickly took off and the pair's lives became a whirlwind of tours, concerts and adoring fans.

Wham! during the recording of Club Tropicana at Pikes Hotel in Ibiza on March 16, 1983 in Ibiza, Spain.
Wham! during the recording of Club Tropicana at Pikes Hotel in Ibiza on March 16, 1983 in Ibiza, Spain. Picture: Getty
George Michaelof Wham!, performing on stage during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985
George Michael of Wham!, performing on stage during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. Picture: Getty

Andrew reflected that he and George were "in a bubble" and were shielded from just how popular they had quickly become.

Read more: What is Wham!'s Andrew Ridgeley doing now? Star's age, wife, net worth and more

"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," he said.

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

"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.

Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of pop group Wham! with pink flamingo dancers
Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of pop group Wham! with pink flamingo dancers. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley seen here giving a press conference during a cocktail party, 2nd November 1984
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley seen here giving a press conference during a cocktail party, 2nd November 1984. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! looking at a display of guitars for sale, during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! looking at a display of guitars for sale, during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of pop duo WHAM! performing their farewell concert at Wembley Stadium, London, 28th June 1986.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of pop duo WHAM! performing their farewell concert at Wembley Stadium, London, 28th June 1986. Picture: Getty

"It wasn't perhaps as broad as it is these days, it was fab though."

The pair became famous across the world and in 1985 George and Andrew were the first "contemporary" group to visit China.

Watch George Michael's last ever concert - his final words are heartbreakingly poignant

"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," he said.

"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."

After reaching huge success, the duo decided to split and on June 28 1986 held a huge "farewell" concert in front of 72,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

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

After George Michael's untimely death on December 25, 2016 Andrew opened up about his tribute to his longtime friend and colleague at the 2017 Brit Awards.

Live Aid, London 1985
Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael pictures at Live Aid, London 1985. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! performing during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985. In the background are backing singers Pepsi and Shirley
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! performing during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985. In the background are backing singers Pepsi and Shirley. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! perform on stage at Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia, 27th January 1985.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! perform on stage at Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia, 27th January 1985. Picture: Getty
Photo of George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley from Wham!
Photo of George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley from Wham! 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 said of the event.

Read more: Andrew Ridgeley opens up about grief over "missing" George Michael

"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."

Andrew added that his memories of George would never truly fade, adding: "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."

Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of Wham! performing during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985. In the background are backing singers Pepsi and Shirley
Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of Wham! performing during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985. In the background are backing singers Pepsi and Shirley. Picture: Getty
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! perform on stage at the National Exhibition Centre, on February 27th, 1985 in Birmingham, England.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! perform on stage at the National Exhibition Centre, on February 27th, 1985 in Birmingham, England. Picture: Getty
George Michael performs live on stage with pop duo Wham! in front of fans during their 1985 world tour in January 1985.
George Michael performs live on stage with pop duo Wham! in front of fans during their 1985 world tour in January 1985. Picture: Getty
Photo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of WHAM!
Photo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of WHAM! Picture: Getty

Last Played Songs