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File: George Michael
George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou 25 June 1963) is an English musician, singer, songwriter and record producer.
Michael rose to fame in the 1980s when he formed the pop duo Wham! with his school friend, Andrew Ridgeley. His first solo single, "Careless Whisper", was released when he was still in the duo and sold about six million copies worldwide.
As one of the world's best-selling music artists, Michael has sold more than 100 million records worldwide as of 2010. His 1987 debut solo album, Faith, has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and made several records and achievements in the United States. Michael has garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the "The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists".
Michael has won numerous music awards throughout his 30-year career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.
In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael as the most played artist on British radio between the period of 1984–2004. The documentary A Different Story was released in 2005; it covered his personal life and professional career. In 2006, George Michael announced his first tour in 15 years. The 25 Live tour was a massive, worldwide undertaking by Michael, spanning three individual tours over the course of three years (2006, 2007 and 2008).
Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, North London. His father, Kyriacos Panayiotou, a Greek Cypriot restaurateur, moved to England in the 1950s and changed his name to Jack Panos. Michael's mother, Lesley Angold (née Harrison, 1937–1997), was an English dancer who died from cancer in Fulham. Michael spent the majority of his childhood in North London, in the home his parents bought soon after his birth. While in his early teens, the family moved to Radlett. There Michael attended the Bushey Meads School, where he met Andrew Ridgeley. The two had the same career ambition of being musicians.
His involvement in the music business began with his working as a DJ, playing at clubs and local schools around Bushey, Stanmore and Watford. This was followed by the formation of a short-lived ska band called The Executive with Ridgeley, Ridgeley's brother Paul, Andrew Leaver, and David Mortimer (aka David Austin).
In a 2007 interview, Michael admitted that he had hidden the fact he was gay because of worries over what effect it might have on his mother.
Michael established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, whom he had met at the 1991 concert Rock in Rio. Feleppa died of a brain haemorrhage in 1993. Michael's single "Jesus to a Child" is a tribute to Feleppa (he consistently dedicates it to him before performing it live), as is his 1996 album Older.
In 1996, Michael entered into a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss, a former cheerleader coach and sportswear executive from Dallas. They had homes in London and Dallas. In late November 2005, it was reported that Michael and Goss would register their relationship as a civil partnership in the UK, but because of negative publicity and his upcoming tour, they postponed it to a later date. On 22 August 2011, the opening night of his Symphonica world tour, Michael announced that he and Goss had split two years earlier. Goss was present at Michael's British sentencing for driving under the influence of marijuana on 14 September 2010.
Questions of Michael's sexual orientation persisted in public until 7 April 1998, when he was arrested for "engaging in a lewd act" in a public toilet in a park in Beverly Hills, California. He was arrested by an undercover policeman named Marcelo Rodríguez, in a sting operation using so-called "pretty police."
In an MTV interview, Michael stated: "I got followed into the restroom and then this cop—I didn't know it was a cop, obviously—he started playing this game, which I think is called, 'I'll show you mine, you show me yours, and then when you show me yours, I'm going to nick you!"
After pleading "no contest" to the charge, Michael was fined US$810 and sentenced to 80 hours of community service. Soon afterwards, Michael made a video for his single "Outside" which was obviously based on the public toilet incident and which featured men dressed as policemen kissing. Rodríguez claimed that this video "mocked" him, and that Michael had slandered him in interviews. In 1999, he brought a US$10 million court case in California against the singer. The court dismissed the case, but an Appellate court reinstated the case on 3 December 2002. The court then ruled Rodríguez, as a public official, could not legally recover damages for emotional distress.
After the incident, Michael became explicit about his sexuality and his relationship with Kenny Goss which began in June 1996.
On 23 July 2006. Michael was again accused of engaging in anonymous public sex, this time at London's Hampstead Heath. The anonymous partner was later discovered to be 58-year-old Norman Kirtland, an unemployed van driver. Despite stating that he intended to sue both the News of the World tabloid who photographed the incident and Norman Kirtland for slander, Michael stated that he cruises for anonymous sex and that this was not an issue in his relationship with partner Kenny Goss.
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