Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The dear friend I never met - tribute to George Michael

George Michael is gone, taken from all of us far too soon. He died on December 25, 2016, Christmas Day. Even now I can scarcely take it in, it seems unbelievable.
I never met George. For me he was the dear friend I somehow never got to meet. I could turn to him for a joyous celebration when I was happy and ask to be comforted by him when life was unbearably sad. I felt I knew him through his music, as much as he allowed us to know him that is. My dear friend is gone forever but he left his music behind. It will have to be enough.

Forever in our hearts

We fans are all grieving, each in our own way. In these days of social media it's easy to see how many lives George touched, how many people loved his music, loved him. The group of people who mourn him, from celebrities to  just regular people like me, is surprisingly diverse. So many in the music world professed their admiration, respect or even love for him.

For so long George Michael sought to be taken serious as a solo artist, to be thought of as a talented musician rather than that pretty boy from Wham! Looking at twitter, Facebook and the media the day after his passing it's obvious he had earned the respect he so craved - in spades. What makes me cry for George is the thought that he will never see this outpouring of love. Because I don't think George ever knew how much his peers, his fellow musicians respected him and even looked up to him.

Today, time and again my thoughts turn to George Michael's father. A little over 4 years ago I watched George Michael walk on stage at the Viennese Stadthalle to resume his Symphonica Tour after a long hiatus due to illness- and my heart rejoiced.  As luck would have it, his father was sitting 2 rows behind me. Of course I didn't want to bother him too much but during the break I walked up to him and quickly told him how grateful and happy we all were that George was doing better. I'll never forget the look on mister Panayiotou's face when he told me what it had been like for him to get his son back from the dead. My heart aches for him at the thought that after all this he still will have to bury his only son - it's too cruel for words.

Some time later I discussed with Shirl (@mollie5555), a fellow George Michael fan from Dublin, how nice it was to see Mister Panayiotou in the audience. She had also had a quick chat with George's father and one of the things she told him was that she was so grateful to George for bringing so many people together. Today our talk popped into my head and she's absolutely right. It's one of the surprising ways George Michael has enriched my life.

Without George I'd never have met so many lovely people. Some fans were kind enough to sell me their superfluous concert tickets at face value prices, so I had great seats for sold-out shows. Some fans I met at the venues where the 25Live and Symphonica tours played, there was a small group of people I saw at nearly every show I ever went to. The George Michael fan world was at times a very small world. I remember collecting our tickets at the box office at Madison Square Garden in New York City and promptly bumping in to two of George's biggest fans from England! Some fans I met at fan get-togethers where we laughed, swapped stories and played a lot of GM music.
And some fans whom I  consider to be among my best friends I only met online. Like the lovely but formidable Anne, the woman behind GeorgeMichaelNL. And the incomparable Meme (@memelamour, who I finally met last year, yay!) What bound all of us together was our shared love for George Michael and his music. And for that I am grateful to George.


The phrase 'soundtrack of my life' is overused at this point, but for George it definitely does apply. George's music was with me for years and years. As a teenager having a bit of a crush on the blond guy in Wham, and secretly dancing to 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' as it was not cool at all at our school to be a Wham! fan. As a twenty-something sobbing my heart out to endless repeats of  'One More Try', and 'A Different Corner' when I got my heart broken for the first time.
Eleven years ago, on the morning of our wedding listening with my wife to 'Amazing', his joyous love song for then-partner Kenny Goss. It was a fitting way to start our day of love and celebration together.
When I went through a long period of grief, mourning the mother that I never knew, I sought refuge in George's music. His voice was the only one that could comfort the inconsolable child within me.
Only last week I changed my alarm ringtone to 'Spinning The Wheel' and was gobsmacked anew by the sheer brilliance of the song. It's such a great track and live it was even better - mesmerising even. And while it hurts too much to listen to his music now, I'm sure in time it will help me get over the pain of losing him.


Like all of us, George had his flaws. It was no secret that hugely talented as he was, he was also burdened with what the Guardian lovingly called "a somewhat inept approach to being alive". Most of the fans felt quite protective about George and I was no exception. At times, as Simon Hattenstone of the Guardian so aptly put it, I felt "more parental by the second". I pray infrequently but whenever I did I always included a quick prayer for George, asking that he please be healthy, happy and safe.

Sadly quite often George tried to shield his fragile soul from the pain and grief of life in ways that were clearly not good for him. His family must have been so worried for him and his self-medication probably caused them a great deal of pain and anguish. I'm convinced though that in the end the person he hurt the most was himself. By all accounts George was at heart a very kind and loving man, truly one of the good guys. The fact that through it all his true friends stood by him and never, ever blabbed to the tabloids says it all. He was clearly a man worth knowing and loving.

Still, being a a George Michael fan wasn't always easy. It meant being there with him through all the highs and the lows, the good times and the bad times. And some of the bad times were very bad indeed.
George and cars, it was forever a dangerous combo.  I can still feel the utter shock of walking into the breakfast room of our English hotel and seeing the blaring headlines that George had been in a near-fatal crash. It had left his big, sturdy car a write-off and the scary photos of what was left of his Jeep stayed with me for days. Amazingly, he walked away from the wreckage without any serious injuries.  A few years later he was not so lucky with that horrid incident where he somehow ended up lying in the middle of a motorway. And of course there was the embarrassing mishap that resulted in millions upon millions of free publicity for Snappy Snaps - and a short stint in jail for George.

But all of that paled in comparison with the weeks of desperate worry at the end of 2011, when George was fighting for his life in Vienna after he fell ill during his successful Symphonica Tour. Like most fans I wept tears of relief when he finally flew back to London after a month of hospitalisation in Vienna. And I cried right along with him as I watched his tearful impromptu press conference the day he got back home, his face gaunt, a frail man looking like a shadow of the star who'd played to sold-out arenas only a few weeks before. Oh George.

Joy and laughter

Of course there were many high points as well, many moments that made me so proud and happy to be a George Michael fan.

That beautiful smile

He was an absolute joy to listen to in interviews. Part of it was his honesty (he must have been a dream come true for any good good interviewer), part of it was his innate charm and sense of humour. George could be very funny, his hour long special with Michael Parkinson is a great example. And he was never afraid to send himself up,  appearing in hilarious sketches with Catherine Tate (I still listen to their version of Fairytale Of New York), Little Britain and Ricky Gervais to name a few.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, could rock a suit like George! The black and silver Armani suits he wore for most of the 25Live shows were an inspired choice. As was the wonderfully naughty cop uniform he used for Outside, both the video and the version for 25Live.

George was such a handsome man. Over the years we saw quite a few image changes - one even more appealing (that's a polite word for hot) than the other. With the notable exception of his short Mafia Don phase in 2009 of course.

That beautiful, infectious grin. Whenever George was having fun, onstage or in some other situation, his smile would light up any room or auditorium. No matter how sad you were feeling, if you saw George laugh, you automatically smiled too, you couldn't help it.

Live in London (and a lot of other places)

I've been very lucky to see George Michael in concert a lot during the 25Live and Symphonica tours. It cost quite a bit of money and time but it was totally worth it.  Along the way I accumulated a wealth of priceless memories. Far too many to mention here, but here are a couple that are on my mind today.

Lost in music, adored by his fans.
Earls Court, October 2012

Rotterdam, November 4, 2006
Back in 2006 it was a big gamble for George to tour again. The music scene was changing, and everybody needed to tour to make money and to support their careers. George didn't want the kind of lavish show (constant costume changes, lots of dancers etc.) designed to distract you from the fact the performer on stage couldn't actually sing that well. He wanted his voice to take centre stage. But would his voice hold up, and would the crowds still love him? Yes and yes - and it was touching to see how happy that made him, night after night.
Dutch crowds always were good to George, he loved us and we loved him right back. At the end of the last of 3 sold-out nights he told us he'd had a fantastic time and thanked us for 'singing all night  with him '. So humble and touching.

My Mother Had A Brother, August 1, 2007
One of the most beautiful songs George ever wrote. It was never a single so the casual George Michael fan might not even be aware of its existence. But it's such a wonderful, emotional song and I feel blessed that I heard George sing it live a few times. George didn't put it on the setlist all that often, because vocally he'd have to be on the top of his game to do it justice live.

Where I Hope You Are - Herning August 29, 2011
What can I say. This was the song that told the world how much he'd loved Kenny Goss and how much he was hurting from their break-up. And on that particular night he showed us as well, welling up a few times during the song, his voice breaking a bit. It was a special moment on an already very special night.

Verona, September 13, 2011
It was a very warm September afternoon in Verona, 5 years ago. I was sat on a bench on the square in front of the amazingly beautiful Arena di Verona (an historical, open-air venue), all excited for the concert to come that evening. And then I heard George's voice, he was soundchecking by singing 'Understand'! I remember it so vividly,  the feel of the warmth of the sun, the view of that wonderful historical Arena and George's voice drifting over to where I was sitting. It was a perfect moment.

Thank you, George

I feel  so privileged to have heard George's beautiful voice so many times. Live in concert that amazing voice of his was even better than on CD. So warm and full of emotion, always sounding as if he was singing just for you. The thought of his live voice being silent forever in this world makes me sad beyond tears.

I'm not yet able to say goodbye to George. Today 'goodbye' hurts too much. Today is a day for tears. Tears for George because I hoped for so much more for him; he deserved a longer and happier life. Today is also a day for remembrance. And for being grateful and saying a heartfelt 'thank you' to the man who had such a big impact on my life.

"I'm so sorry George that you had to leave here so early. I hope you are with Anselmo and your mum and most of all I hope you are at peace. Be well dear George and thank you for all that you've given me. I've loved you for a good part of your life and I will love you for the rest of mine."


  1. Dear Ada, thank you for these lovely words. Although I have not been so lucky to see George so often (I only saw him once on the Symphonica Tour in Barcelona) I feel myself reflected in your words. He has also comforted me in my bitterest moments and I also feel as if I knew him and that he was a bit a friend of mine. And yes, you are right, being a George Michael fan has not always been easy. Especially in the last years. Always hoping to hear something from him, even the tiniest piece of news and praying that he would be happy and well as his silence worried us so much. I've often thought about having a friend like him. He seemed such a nice person when you saw / heard him in interviews, shows or the social media. I don't know what happens after death but I don't loose hope that I will meet him somewhere, somehow.

  2. What a beautiful tribute ... thank you for your words, at this time I've really taken comfort in them.

  3. Your story is as heartwarming and emotional, as it is true and was like you were reading my mind, and you had me in tears most of the time...what it helped me understand is that there are other people out there who are real fans and who truly love George, the way I do too. Thank you for your beautiful, kind words.

  4. You write beautifully on this blog, and I apologize for not writing as well, but I'm so grateful for someone making a blog on George for people to share (I sent an email to official GM website to create a fan blog, but got message they are out of office until 1/4/17! see below & help if possible) I share several of your sentiments & THANK YOU for expressing yours

    Dear Administrators of &,

    There is an outpouring of meaningful commentary all over different internet sources in reaction to the death of George Michael. I am deeply moved by all the things I have read - that I can search and find. And I read that the family and friends of George have also been deeply moved by the messages they have received thus far.

    In this crucial time period, I truly feel that the fans of George Michael need an intuitive, and centralized place to express their thoughts/feelings and condolences, as a means of support and comfort, for them, and for the benefit of George's immediate family/friends.

    I believe is that intuitive, centralized location (and historical repository) that fans would think of to go to to express themselves. PLEASE develop a "Fan Commentary" page on the website. I am sure "word" would spread quickly as to it being the most appropriate and beneficial location for communication for all concerned. Perhaps its promotion could be posted on major GM Twitter sites. From a practical business perspective, it would also encourage exposure to Mr. Michael's works.

    And lastly and most importantly, in utmost respect to the passing of Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, for whom the entire website is about, please post a brief memorandum statement of his death.

    I always admired George Michael for taking action on things he personally believed were the right thing to do, for himself, and for the benefit of others. In his spirit, I believe this is the right thing to do. Please honor that spirit.(P.S. below)


    Andra Gailis

    Andra Gailis, M.S., NCC
    Professional Counselor
    725 Wood Valley Trace
    Roswell, GA 30076
    (770) 594-7616

    P.S. Personally, I am beyond bereft on George's passing. I have always cared (and worried) for him so much and wanted to be an "anonymous" support for him anyway I could. For years I have tried to reach out to him directly, to his manager, friends, business associates, fans - and send messages of help, support, & encouragement. Twitter, Instagram, uTube, Facebook, etc. does not cut it. My desire with current social networking technology has always been for famous persons/artists (who are personally struggling) to be able to use fan databases as a resource to somehow anonymously receive anonymous support from those who already care for the person. The resource is there, it needs to be used to its highest potential for those it serves. Maybe the lives of several recently lost, great (troubled) artists could have been saved had this resource previously existed. Being trained in LGBTQ and addiction issues, along with having a personally unexplainable empathetic connection to George, I tried to reach him, but I feel I didn't try hard enough. And now it's too late. My heart is utterly broken for George. Maybe I can try to do this to at least provide support to those who identify with or love him.

  5. (Here I'm going to copy/paste some things I've written on facebook, so it may appear somewhat haphazard)

    For years I have connected w/& felt George Michael's pain & struggle for peace, self-love, self-acceptance & happiness...I would get spontaneous intuitions about him or dreams & then search the internet just to find out they were true...I am trained as a psychotherapist/counselor & have dealt w/LGBTQ & addiction issues...if I EVER wanted to help anyone, it was him....but I'm just me, what can or could I do? So for years now I have been intentionally sending energy/thoughts to & twittering George - and to his friends, his manager, his fans, to all means all social media - to try to let him know he has all the love & answers within him to be self-fulfilled...on Friday 12/23/16, I heard his song "Last Christmas" on the radio for the 1st time this xmas season - & I felt absolutely happy & alive for the 1st time this xmas - but right then I also knew I had to pray my best, deepest, most honest, heartfelt desires for him...I prayed that on Christmas he be at home, warm in his bed, with absolutely no worries whatsoever, nothing left to do, no responsibilties, no achievements to chase, just contentment - just BE enveloped in a soft, ever eternal warm loving peace, his heart finally at peaceful rest, at last, PLEASE....and now find out he died on Christmas at home in bed from heart failure...I cared for him SO much...I'm utterly bereft...

    I'm still trying to figure out & decide what I truely think about metaphysical/spiritual relations to the human experience...I think I cared about and loved George Michael - not just the artist, but the person - so much that I/It connected to possibly some larger, greater consciousness of Love that may have crossed traditional, physical-bound boundaries...looking back to Friday, I now think I intuitively, but not consciously, knew he was going to leave us...

    My personal experience has taught me that when one truely loves, from the depths of their soul, that love has a consciousness of its own....George has taught me that "Love IS Love"

    "I don't think that you lose love when someone dies," he says. "If you have loved, then the love you felt never goes away. It is with you forever." ~George Michael

    "When mystics use the word love, they use it very carefully -- in the deeply spiritual sense, where to love is to know; to love is to act. If you really love, from the depths of your Consciousness, that love gives you a native wisdom. You perceive the needs of others intuitively and clearly, with detachment from any personal desires; and you know how to act creatively to meet those needs, dexterously surmounting any obstacle that comes in the way. Such is the immense, driving power of love."
    -- Eknath Easwaran

    George showed us this type of love through his lyrics, music, voice, and countless acts of giving to ease those who were in pain whilst in his own pain...

  6. I am poignantly reminded of the words to his last recorded song "White Light"...

    Against the permission of the Olympic organizers (which some broadcasters blocked), George sang his White Light song...because he felt so strongly about wanting to show his thanks & appreciation to everyone who helped & cared about him during his near death experience w/pneumonia

    But long afterwards, who cared enough about his pain? Just look at the words of the song (and others throughout his career)...he was in pain & did not want to die, but felt like he was inside....

    "He was feeling better about stuff and he'd stopped being naughty," Andros told The Times .

    "But there was much pain in his heart. I think it just gave up. He felt like he had let people down."

    However, Andros insists that the talented singer had managed to break free from his demons and was on a path to a brighter future.

    "He had swapped drugs for drink but he was doing better. Now he's gone it's devastating," added Andros.

    People say they love his music...his music was a direct reflection of his state - always.
    Why don't people care enough?! He even wrote this to us many times in different songs.
    Don't just love the music, love the person who made the music, and reach out in a meaningful way to show you care, before it is too late.

    After coming out of the hospital, I continually twittered George the lines of this song (White Light) to reflect back to him that yes he really does want to live & to just please "keep on breathing"

    People are so quick to judge others for drug/alcohol problems...but never stop to consider the deep, unresolved personal pain that is desperately trying to be buried through it's use

    People who have different beliefs are quick to judge others that are different from them....George always personally struggled with his sexual identity...and used his own personal platform to reveal the truth about just how difficult it is

    Through his pain he was courageous and I applaud and cry for it

    George taught me that LOVE is LOVE, period...underneath everything that we appear to be, we are all each a spirit of love trying to break free for all to see

    "Did I know he was homosexual in those days? I really don't know, as I never thought about the personal sexuality of the greatly loved voices from my youth. This was not because I was not aware of the realities of humanity. As someone raised by a preacher and exposed to the Bible on a daily basis, I knew all about all of these things. When it came to George Michael, I really only cared about the magnificent sound of his God-given voice, which was the purest expression of his humanity. We are all far more than our physical bodies and earthly desires. We are eternal souls, always seeking, and it is clear from his body of work, that George Michael was seeking and searching, and he had some fun as well as some heartache as he did - as we all do." (NY Times, obituary)

  7. This man's entire life has been a testament to the struggles of the human condition and what beauty can come from it for others - this is what is True Nobility (please sign the petition for posthumous knighthood for George Michael:

  8. I've said a lot here and perhaps it's not even warranted (and perhaps later edited, which is OK), but the reason why a person is touched by his music, lyrics, intention, by the sound of his angelic voice, is because the love inside of them identifies with the love inside of the person who made it.

    "One more voice we’ll never hear again....But maybe he just to wanted to be free" (White Light)...I will say I can not explain how deeply the sound of his voice touches me...when I hear his voice, I get an immediate sense of "home" many other people, I too have my troubles & tend to keep the bad feelings locked up inside so I can just keep on functioning for others...but George, more than anyone, or anything else, upon hearing his exquisite singing voice, always allowed me to feel again & plug back into the pulse of life...what am I, all of us going to do now? George once twittered "all of you benefit from my pain" (meaning he cranks out awesome heartbreaking songs when he's sad) No George, no we don't. There's more to you than your own pain, that's what you didn't come to really know. What I have always said, is when I die, to me, heaven will be the pearly gates in the clouds opening up wide w/a loud, surround-around "Oh yea" welcoming in George's voice :) I could spend eternity in that voice.

  9. On a lighter note, I will tell the story when I first heard his voice. I was a teenager driving in my car (stick-shift, mind you, just learned how to drive). Turned on the radio & this new heavenly voice I did not know belted this sentence out of the speakers, "I Want Your Sex." My leg's calf muscles immediately went into a cramp (like a female hard on?) & I smacked the car in front of me. The other driver got out & asked what the hell just happened, and I just said "you don't want to know." For a good while, my calf muscles would always cramp up when I heard George sing. Thank God I got over that. The kids at school would watch me limp down the hall & just look at me & say, "George again, huh?" A couple of years later I was lucky enough to use that cramped leg and dance with George to "I Want Your Sex" at one of his Faith tour concerts (front row/stage). I had a 3rd row seat and was so fortunate, this other gracious girl told me, "it appears you like George Michael even more than I do, so take my front row/center seat! (THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!) The camera man (his name was "Skunk") even videotaped me & told me I should really meet George Michael. I agreed. He got me backstage, but later informed me that unfortunately George was leaving to meet Brooke Shields at the hotel (she screwed it all up for me!). But he told me that George always videotaped his concerts & would immediately watch them in his hotel room afterwards to review & improve his performance. So while I would always be watching George's videos, here was George Michael watching a video of me! Skunk even filmed me again and asked if there was anything I wanted to say to George & he'd make sure he got it. I don't even remember what I said, I'm sure it was something stupid (I do remember trying to not sound too stupid, though). God how I wish a different corner had been turned and I had the chance to redo that video message to George with what I know and feel now (I think that's something I'm going to work on). I can't believe I didn't ever get to meet him. I really can't. Later that same week a friend and I drove from Texas to Florida and we got free tickets to his show, tried to get backstage (failed), found his hotel, and still could not meet him. I really always thought that somehow it would happen. I wonder if it would have made a difference. I always told myself in the future I'm just going to go to London and make sure, one way or another, I'm going meet George and try to help him. But I never did it. And now it's too late. And now I feel so guilty I didn't try hard enough.

  10. Like you, I regret, and also hope that now somehow George knows: YOU ARE LOVED, you were ALWAYS LOVED, you WILL always be loved, and now YOU ARE LOVE

    (12/25/16) He was so sad, why couldn't someone have helped? I tried in my own way, but not a part of my heart has died, I have lost my beloved...George I hope u r finally in peace with your beloved

    Now Debbie Reynolds dies today after her daughter Carrie Fisher died yesterday and George Michael just before that....when will people learn that an emotionally broken heart LITERALLY breaks a physical heart....start caring for the people around you before it is too late

  11. Thanks for these words ; you say exactly what we feel... words I cannot find yet ; pain is too heavy... thanks for this beautiful tribute, as he was "so beautiful"

  12. Thanks Ada, for another wonderfull blog. The last one?? Lets remember the lovely times we had with each other, with one love we all share. I cannot say more then what you did here. Thanks again, and hope to see you soon