FLASHBACK: George Michael in 1986: Fame Lasts ‘As Long As We Remain Sane’
George Michael was one of the most recognizable artists in pop music history, and when ET spoke with the late recording artist back in 1985 — just as his meteoric rise to stardom began — it was clear he knew early on that he was going to carve his name into the pop landscape.
Michael gained fame in the early 1980s as half of the duo Wham!, along with Andrew Ridgeley, and their 1984 hit “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” took over the airwaves and public consciousness. As it turns out, the song’s popularity gave Michael faith that he had a real future in the business.
The English singer opened up to ET a year after the song’s release about the moment he realized he was going to be a star in America, sharing, “To be perfectly honest, I suppose [it was] the minute that ‘Wake Me Up’ started moving up the charts quickly.”
The song became a smash hit, reaching No. 1 in over 15 countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland and the U.K. The song was also certified platinum by the RIAA.
ET’s first interview with the red-hot pop star took place after a Wham! concert in Los Angeles, which Michael said was “the best gig we’ve ever played and the best crowd we’ve ever seen, easily.”
“I couldn’t wish for anything better than tonight, so I hope that that’s going to carry on for the rest of the tour,” he said at the time.
Michael’s first solo single, “Careless Whisper,” was released the same year as Wham!’s debut, but it would be another two years before his 1987 debut solo album, Faith, which went on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide to date.
In 1986, ET spoke with Michael yet again, and the artist was optimistic yet practical about Wham!’s — and his — future in the music business, saying that their fame would last “as long as we remain sane human beings.”
“We’ve managed thus far,” he added. “I think we can hold on a bit longer.” The band went on to split up later that year, in what the singer said was “the most amicable split in pop history.” The band even went on a final farewell tour and released a farewell single along with a greatest hits album.
Michael died on Christmas Day at the age of 53. The singer’s U.S. manager confirmed to ET that he died of heart failure, and had not previously been sick. According to his boyfriend, Fadi Fawaz, he died “peacefully in bed.” For more on the iconic singer’s life and legacy, watch the video below.