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George Michael’s Wham! Bandmate Opens Up About His Death Nearly 10 Years Later

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

George Michael’s death shocked the world, but someone who likely felt it more than most was his former Wham! bandmate, Andrew Ridgeley. Almost a decade has passed since the singer-songwriter’s death, and Ridgeley has recently spoken out on how the news affected him. He also revealed what he regretted most about the band’s breakup.

Wham! dissolved almost as quickly as they rose to the top

George Michael in a hat standing beside Andrew Ridgeley
Wham! during the recording of Club Tropicana at Pikes Hotel in Ibiza, Spain on May 16, 1983. (Photo Credit: FG / Bauer-Griffin / Getty Images)

Wham! was formed in England in 1981 and consisted of two members, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. Very quickly, the duo became one of the most popular bands in the UK, going on to rise to international success as well. Targeting their music to a younger audience, the pair sold more than 30 million certified records in just four short years between 1982 and 1986.

As quickly as they came on the scene, Wham! decided to disband. They performed their last show together in 1986 at Wembley Stadium, appropriately titled “The Final.” Michael and Ridgeley played all of their hits, including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Last Christmas,” and “Club Tropicana,” and they even had guest appearances from the likes of Elton John and Duran Duran leadman Simon Le Bon.

After a show like that, they certainly left on a high note.

Ridgeley was never jealous of Michael’s solo success

Headshot of George Michael.
A studio portrait of George Michael, taken in London circa 1987. (Photo Credit: Michael Putland / Getty Images)

After their separation, both members went on to pursue their own passions. Ridgeley backed away from the music industry to try his hand at becoming a professional race car driver, to then later give acting a go. He made a return to music back in 1990, releasing a solo album called Son of Albert, but it wasn’t very successful.

Meanwhile, Michael went on to have a remarkable solo career, becoming one of the greatest musical artists of all time. He earned himself two Grammy Awards and five Brit Awards, and became a household name in his own right.

Many fans thought Ridgeley may have harbored some negative feelings toward his former bandmate for reaching the level of success he did, but Ridgeley has always denied any feelings of jealousy. Instead, he was “thrilled” at Michael’s success, saying, “It is so alien and bizarre to me that anyone would feel otherwise.”

He explained how their separation from Wham! came at exactly the right time, and said, “We were extremely fortunate to have the friendship we did. And we were extremely fortunate to have achieved far more than we ever thought we would.”

Ridgeley regretted not going on one final tour

George Michael singing into a microphone while Andrew Ridgeley plays guitar.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of WHAM! performing in Japan, January 1985. (Photo Credit: Michael Putland / Getty Images)

Even though they both felt breaking up the band was the right thing to do at the time, Ridgeley has admitted that there is one thing he wished they had completed before parting ways for good. He explained that he wished they had done one final tour before calling it quits. Instead, they did one last show in 1986.

“I felt a final tour to say goodbye to our fans around the world would have been a generous gesture,” he explained. “I felt it was a courtesy to them to have done that. The least we could have done, to be honest with you.” However, “I also understood [George’s] essential ideology behind having just one show.”

How Ridgeley felt hearing the news of Michael’s death

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley singing with one another, the latter holding a guitar
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, of the former band Wham!, perform on stage on January 27, 1991, at Rock in Rio, Brazil. (Photo Credit: Mick Hutson / Redferns / Getty Images)

On December 25, 2016, Michael died of natural causes as a result of heart disease and a fatty liver. He was only 53 years old, and it came as a shock to friends, family, and fans around the world.

In an interview, Ridgeley opened up about how Michael’s death affected him. “When I found out [George had died] it was a moment of disbelief,” he explained. “I think anyone finds it difficult to comprehend when someone they’re so close to passes away, it’s an inconceivable moment. It leaves a void in your life. I’d love to just sit and have lunch and play Scrabble with Yog again.” ‘Yog’ was one of Michael’s nicknames.

Ridgeley and Michael had known each other since childhood, and though they would eventually part as bandmates, they still maintained a friendship as they grew older. They even shared one last-ever performance side-by-side in 1991 when Ridgeley joined him on stage at the Rock in Rio music festival.

More from us: Swinging Facts About The Monkees

A final tour never happened, and now fans are left to cherish their memories of Michael.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!