Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Last Christmas By Wham!—Murfin Winter Holidays Music Festival 2023-‘24


                                                        Last Christmas by Wham!

Sunday night I caught the broadcast of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductions which I don’t think I ever did before.  It was an impressive class of Honorees including Chaka Khan, Sheril Crow, Willie Nelson, and Rage Against the Machine.  But the posthumous induction of George Michael reminded me that Wham! had one of its biggest pop hits with Last Christmas, a catchy and perky holiday romance song that led to Maria Careys All I Want For Christmas is You.

The U.K. slip cover for the Last Christmas single.

Because Band Aids Do They Know It’s Christmas? on which Michael sang was released the week before, Wham!’s song only reached #2 on the British charts.  It became a perennial seasonal hit and reached #2 twice more.  The song finally #1 in the UK Singles Chart on New Years Day 2021, more than 36 years after its initial release.  For many it years held the record as the highest-selling single never to top the charts by the Official Charts Company (OCC) with 1.9 million copies sold, not including streams.

George Michaels, left, and Andrew Ridgely of Wham!

Michaels and his childhood pal Andrew Ridgeley teamed up to form a duo while still in their teens and released their first singles in 1981.  They defined a post-disco pop dance sound with a defiant attitude.  Michaels became the pair’s main songwriter and his brooding, carefully unshaven good looks and frosted hair made him a teenage girl heart throb. 

After a series of scandals, drugs, and an arrest on a public morals charge, Michaels finally came out as openly Gay in 1998.  He became a vocal Gay rights advocate and crusaded for the care of HIV/AIDES victims.  He also took up several public causes and was a staunch Laborite  and opponent of Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  

Michaels in 2011.

Michaels continued to struggle with drugs while maintaining a solo career.  But after 2011 his health deteriorated rapidly.  He died of heart disease in the early hours of Christmas Day 2016, in bed at his home in Goring-on-Thames, at the age of 53.


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