I never bought any George Michael records, although I did quite like Different Corner, Faith and his moving version of I Can't Make You Love Me. Wham!, like so many eighties pop groups, haunted my youth, blasting out from speakers in nightclubs and pubs, making me wish I was at home listening to Neil Young. However, the trouble with that modus operandi, was that you didn't meet any girls in your bedroom and, even if one had somehow miraculously appeared at the door, she would have scarpered pretty quickly, laughing uncontrollably at your humungous comedy headphones. So, you'd bite your lip, put Rust Never Sleeps back in its sleeve and trundle off into the night bracing yourself to have your ears assailed by the hits of the day. Don't You Want Me Baby? Er, no actually, now you ask, no I don't. Not at all.
When George Michael was found dead on Christmas morning, the event quite rightly brought with it all the tributes you might expect because, whatever your opinion on his music, there can be no doubt that he was a brave soul. Brave in the obvious sense that he took constant risks but also in that he was extraordinarily generous, and generous people are brave by definition. Over the last few days, stories have seeped out regarding his tireless charity work and the large and consistent donations he made on the strict condition that they be given no publicity. This, let's not forget, at a time when stars of more doubtful motive, were competing ferociously to be seen to be doing good, holding African children like trophies and visiting hospitals with press entourages the size of Lake Superior. Meanwhile George Michael was doing untold good, quietly improving the lives of others by sharing the fruits of his good fortune, talent and hard work. Apparently, he ensured that his less gifted friend and partner in Wham!, Andrew Ridgeley, was given co-writing credits on Careless Whisper, even though, by all accounts, Michael had written it on his own. Let's not forget he also had the courage and strength to take on the Sony Record company at one point. Blimey, it's exhausting and dispiriting enough arguing with your mobile phone provider; imagine standing up to Sony.
So, at 53 years of age, having lived a life packed full of rich experience and goodwill, George Michael passed away last week, leaving the world a better place than when he arrived, half a century ago. Club Tropicana notwithstanding, obviously.