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Wham!'s Andrew Ridgeley says George Michael was under pressure to succeed academically before starting band

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley formed Wham! when they were 18.

George Michael was under "a lot of pressure to achieve" academically.

The late pop star — who passed away on Christmas Day 2015 at the age of 53 following a battle with heart disease — and schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley shot to fame as the duo Wham! in 1981.

Speaking on the UK TV show, This Morning, Ridgeley, 60, shared that while he and Michael were eyeing a career in showbiz, Michael originally wanted to do it after they'd completed their studies. 

"We met at school, we were in the second year and we became firm friends immediately," said Ridgeley.

"We talked about forming a band throughout early teens and he always said it had to be after our O-Levels. There was a lot of pressure on him to achieve academically.

"Then he said it had to be after the A-Levels, but we decided it was now or never. November 5, 1979, that was. We did a few gigs, and we recorded a few demos it imploded in 1981 and we decided to continue songwriting. "

The 'Club Tropicana' hitmaker added that it was a friend of his who eventually gave them their big break with a record deal after getting no offers from elsewhere.

He recalled: "We were a product of new wave and punk. So we touted our songs around and got no responses but Mark Dean, who was a friend of mine socially, he worked in the music biz, and I kept haranguing him to listen to the tape and he called us up to meet us, walked through the door and offered us a record deal. That was big."

To mark the 40th anniversary of Wham!'s first album, Fantastic, Ridgeley is putting out the greatest collection, The Singles: Echoes from The Edge of Heaven, in stores on July 7. 

He said: "It's the 40th anniversary, that was last year, of the first release and there was always an element of Wham's legacy being brought along in the wake of George's career but since his passing, that is no longer there and this is our first initial thing, so I think we are kicking things off with the boxset, CDs, it goes right across all the formats." 

Besides the retrospective album, there is also a Wham! documentary coming to Netflix on July 5. 

Michael will be inducted into this year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, Sheryl Crow, Rage Against the Machine, The Spinners and Willie Nelson. 

The 38th annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction Ceremony takes place at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York, on Nov 3. 

Watch Ridgeley's This Morning interview here:


Photo: TPG News/Click Photos

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Related topics

Hollywood George Michael Andrew Ridgeley Wham!

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