The Paw Print

The Paw Print

The Paw Print

The Break Up of Wham!

Wham! duo Andrew Ridgeley (left) and George Michael (right)

Wham! a well known British duo during the 1980s, faced huge levels of success, followed by a harsh breakup, a huge revelation for member George Micheal, and the recently released documentary Wham! by Netflix in 2023.

Wham!, who you may know from some of their biggest hits Last Christmas, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, rose hugely in popularity throughout the years, selling more than 30 million records between 1982 and 1986.

The duo, who were childhood friends – George Micheal and Andrew Rigley, went through a break up in spring of 1986. The split was caused due to George Micheal coming out as gay. 

These days, it is common for pop stars to express their sexuality, however, back in the day when Wham! was premiering, the world was far different from how it is now. Many felt as if they had to hide their true identity in order to feel accepted and loved. Michael kept this to himself for 15 years of his career, until a scandal erupted in 1998, revealing his sexuality to the world. Some believe that this was reflected into some of his most meaningful songs. 

The Netflix documentary Wham!, which I highly recommend, tells the story of the two boys meeting and sharing their love for music, which later led to the creation of Wham!. The story goes on to share how Michael discovered he was gay, or bisexual at the very least, and hid this from the world – mainly his parents. Michael explains how he had wanted to come out for so long but couldn’t find the courage to do so, and as the success of Wham! continued, the singer “felt more and more trapped.” Michael once said “I was too young and too immature to know that I was sacrificing as much as I was.” 

Michael went on to have an ever so successful solo career, while finally coming out to his parents after his partner, Brazilian dress designer and stylist Anselmo Feleppa, passed away from AIDS in 1993. Micheal struggled greatly during this time and as he was trying to get his emotions in tact, he developed a serious drug problem, and died on Christmas Day 2016 at the age of 53 from liver disease and heart failure. 

Michael’s legacy lives on as his music reaches those younger generations and his story is being shared through the media and the new Wham! documentary, which, again, I highly recommend. 

Sources include Wham! documentary on Netflix, and his 2009 interview with Simon Hattenstone.

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About the Contributor
Taegan Wilczynski
Taegan Wilczynski is a junior entering her third year of journalism. She enjoys keeping up with the news and finding interesting stories to write about. After school, she finds herself playing volleyball, basketball or running. She loves traveling, hanging out with her friends, and chilling with her cats. She is an editor this year, and is really looking forward to working and helping her classmates love journalism as much as she does!