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As an artist George Michael never quite attained the credibility of Bowie or Prince. He wasn't taken so seriously becoming too much the fodder for tabloid frenzy. His death at Christmas 2016 came at the end of a year when so many cultural figures had departed the world that he seemed to pass on with less ceremony somehow. Perhaps people had become inured. Or was it that the public voice, even in death, still couldn’t find a fitting tone to honour this hugely talented musician? Was George Michael just not the right stuff?

Watching a recent documentary about him, still in the making when he died, I was amazed hearing his music in sequence just how excellent a body of work it was. From the sunshine pop of “Club Tropicana” to more reflective pieces like “Careless Whisper” (written at sixteen) and the later album “Older”, to the superbly accomplished dance music he made (for me the best of the genre) - these, to name a few, represent the work of not only a serious artist but a uniquely gifted all-rounder, a singer, songwriter, producer and performer as consummate a creative force as anyone in the pantheon.

At the documentary’s end George said he was among the last of a type: the huge musical icons who could sell ten of millions of records around the world. He didn’t mean it boastfully but was making a point about the fragmented nature of recorded music these days, that the era of the “greats” is over. I agree, and in fact was predicting as much back when he was having his first flush of hits in the mid 1980s. It looks like that will be true. There will be no more greats like George Michael which in many respects will render him all the greater for posterity, in my view wholly deserved, very much the right stuff.

George was the last of a type


music • 27.10.17