Catching Up with ... George Michael
When he isn’t being brutally honest about his best-known songs and worst fashion moments, Grammy-winner George Michael still loves stirring the pot, literally. He recently told the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper he smokes seven joints a day. Fresh from the release of George Michael: Live in London DVD, the 46-year-old singer speaks his mind to PEOPLE.
Do you ever look at your old videos on YouTube?
Yes, actually I do. There’s so much from the Wham! days I’d totally forgotten about. Like places I’d played in and even countries I’d visited. Everything was happening so fast in those days.
Do you still have those ripped jeans from the “Faith” video?
Yes, I do! My dad’s got them stashed away at his house. They were my own jeans. The rips were genuine, because I wore them so much. I used to ask my mum to sew up new rips. In the end, they were so worn out, she refused. The whole “Faith” image was all me. I came up with the leather jacket and everything else. I didn’t use a stylist—I don’t think I could have afforded one!
Do you cringe at your old style?
Cor blimey, where do I start? I know, I’ll start with the blond hair from my Wham! days—that came about because I really didn’t want to be me, so the dark, curly hair had to go. I could’ve done without those curtain rings in my ears. Another embarrassing moment: I went to an awards ceremony in a suit that made me look a little like Colonel Sanders. And I was practically orange from overdoing it on a sunbed.
Which are your best songs?
Hmm. My favorite Wham! song is the original “Freedom.” I was 19 when I wrote it. Afterwards I couldn’t believe I did it. As a solo artist, I’m most proud of “You Have Been Loved” and “Jesus to a Child.” I went through an awful lot of emotional pain to write them.
Are you sick of any of your songs?
I’m not keen on “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” I haven’t sung it live for a long time. Not because I don’t like it; it’s just from a different time. I’m fed up with “Careless Whisper.” I don’t know why it made such an impression. Is it that so many people have cheated? I have no idea. But it’s ironic that I wrote it when I was 17 and didn’t know much about anything. Certainly nothing much about relationships.
What’s the best concert you’ve seen?
Prince on his Lovesexy tour in the ’80s. He’s brilliant live. U2 on their Zooropa tour come a close second.
Any favorite new pop stars?
Amy Winehouse is one of the most gifted singer-songwriters to emerge in Britain in the last few years. And Lady Gaga has my full attention. She’s a unique songwriter with an original overall package. And Björk—she just gets better. Her voice is amazing.
Your thoughts on Adam Lambert?
He’s the guy with the eyeliner and black nails, right? I’ve heard him perform. He certainly seems talented. I didn’t come out until after my mother died, as I was sure the papers would attack me and that would hurt her. Adam is out, so he won’t have that problem. I wish him a lot of success.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Anyone good-looking. If he’s good-looking from afar, all the better.
What’s next for you?
I’m heading off for a tour of Australia. I’d like to do a bit of sightseeing.
Do you still talk to Andrew Ridgeley? What about a Wham! reunion?
Yes, we’re good friends. But I’m afraid we’ll never get back together. We both agreed on that. Wham! was about being young and exuberant, and you can’t re-create that feeling at a certain age. So we’re happy leaving it as a very joyful, wonderful memory.