If you weren’t a teen in 1984, it might be hard to understand, but here’s why: There are Gen X-ers who remember where they first saw the video for Wham! clapping pop song “wake me Up Before You Go Go.”
In it, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, Wham! The heartthrob pioneers of K, wear big smiles and beachy short shorts as they perform their infectious bop — the title is named after a note Ridgeley once left on his family’s refrigerator — a legion of fans. For small crowd. There were fingerless gloves, neon face paint, white “Choose Life” T-shirts that had nothing to do with abortion: It was a new-wave dance party for cool kids who thought Mötley Crüe sucks.
Ridgeley, who turned 60 in January, remembers making it a lot of fun.
“This was our first video with an audience,” he said during a recent video interview from his home in London. “The atmosphere was really upbeat and exciting.”
Ridgeley and his bandmates are the subject of “Wham!,” A new documentary that premieres Wednesday on Netflix. Directed by Chris Smith, it follows the British group’s journey from the beginning to pop stardom fierce form In 1982 on the music show “Top of the Pops”, the albums “Fantastic” (1983) and “Make It Big” (1984) were followed by global success, and ended with 1986. farewell concert in London.
The film, which is itself directed like a power-pop video, shows how the duo’s songs are a modern mix of disco, funk, pop and soul. “Young Guns (Go For It),” “careless Whisper” And “freedom,” helped create the Wham! One of the biggest pop groups of the late 20th century, even though it lasted only four years. Unlike bands that split over artistic or personal disagreements, Wham! There was no rise and fall. Smith said, “It was just a hike and they scrapped it.”
They also didn’t fall apart, said Ridgeley, but instead brought “Whamm!” Ending the way we like.”
Fans may be disappointed to learn that Ridgeley is heard but not seen in the documentary as he appears today: debonair and patrician, with silver hair and that still-cheeky smile. Smith said that the film’s mythic aspirations would have been unbalanced if Ridgeley had been on camera but not Michael, who died seven years earlier at age 53.
Wham! After, Ridgeley told me, she and Michael were “no longer living in each other’s pockets” as they had been since childhood. But his bond was fixed.
If Ridgeley is tired of being known mostly for her friendship with Michael, she doesn’t show it. She brightened when talking about Michael, whose loss made Ridgeley feel as if “the sky had fallen”, as she said in 2017. But he is not talking much about his life now, except to say that he loves cycling.
The documentary includes archival media coverage and a wealth of concert footage, including footage from an unprecedented show in 1985, when Wham! Became the first Western pop group to perform in China.
But it was Risley’s mother who provided the most personal treasures. Since making music with Michael since their son’s grade-school days, they’ve kept about 50 carefully organized scrapbooks filled with photos, reviews, and other ephemera. They include snapshots from the mid-1970s when Ridgeley first met Michael as Georgios Kyriakos Panayiotou, the son of a Cypriot father and a British mother.
Ridgeley was also the son of an immigrant father—his father was Egyptian—and a British mother, and he was immediately infatuated with the boy he called Yoga, a nickname he used often in our interviews. The scrapbooks paint a vivid portrait of boys who loved Queen and “Saturday Night Fever” and wanted to pursue music as a career.
“From the age of 14, the only thing I wanted to do was join a band, write songs and perform,” Ridgeley said with the excitement of a 14-year-old in his voice, adding that fame and Celebrity “never was.” A motivating factor for either of us.”
Ridgeley said that he and Michael knew Wham! would have a limited lifespan as Michael’s songwriting began to “evolve and evolve in a more rapid way”! Could not adjust. Michael will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November.
Wham! Since his heyday, Ridgeley has struggled with the notion that he’s only famous because he was paired with a more talented artist. However, the documentary makes a case in his favor, detailing how guitarist Ridgeley collaborated with musician and artist Michael.
Nevertheless, Ridgeley admitted that his musicianship was not on the same level as Michael’s, “one of the best, if not the best”. One of the finest, singing voices of our generation,” he said, speaking like a proud brother.
15 years before when Michael came to her after filming the video for “Club Tropicana” (1983) did it in public, Ridgeley said he supported them with love and shrugs. Ridgeley said, Michael was more nervous about how his father would react than the public; Did Michael come out during the Wham! Years later, Ridgeley said that he and the fans would have had their support.
“I didn’t think it would affect our success and in the long term it probably won’t,” he said. “It must have been difficult for him for a while, there is no doubt about it. For this all of us will need management. But after the initial sensationalism, it’s on the table, isn’t it?”
Wham! After, Risley was released Only for the 1990 album he leveled up and he did short tenure as a Formula 3 driver, but has otherwise stayed out of the limelight. British newspapers have kept a close eye on his love life – including his love 25 years of relationship With Keren Woodward, a member of Bananarama, another ’80s pop group – as they did when they gave her the Wham!-era nickname Randy Andy.
Ridgeley didn’t propel himself further toward fame because of being in the Wham! Gave him “everything he wanted,” said Shirley Kempa friend from school and a Wow! backup singer, Not just professionally.
Kemp, whose husband is Martin Kemp of the 80s band, said, “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who was as equal to George as Andrew was, both intellectually and with a sense of humour.” Spandau Ballet, “George has the best relationship I’ve ever seen anybody.”
Ridgeley said “there’s a few left unturned” as he’s spent the past five years working on projects that are everything—Wham! In 2019, he published a memoir, “Wham! George Michael and I and had a cameo that year in the romantic-comedy “last Christmas,” which was inspired by the nickname of the group chart-topping holiday single, arrives later this month “Echoes from Heaven’s Edge,” One abode! single collection.
It seems he is still in awe of what he and his best friend have created together.
He said, “I never really understood how we achieved the same level of success as the artists we worshiped like gods when we grew up.” “We were playing at Wembley Stadium, the same venue where Elton John used to play. You can say, ‘I morning The same.’ But in your mind, you’re never the same.”