Netflix’s ‘WHAM!’ uses old footage and interviews to showcase the rise of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley from school kids to international music phenomenons. While the duo met during their school years, they stuck together and soon became famous as members of the ultra-successful pop group WHAM!. However, in the documentary, Andrew noted that since George had a seemingly superior musical ability, he always dreamed of embarking on a solo career. This eventually led to WHAM! breaking up in 1986, as the latter wanted to make music for a more mature audience. Although the split was presented as an amicable one, fans have long wondered if George and Andrew remained friends after that. Well, fret not because we come bearing answers!
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s Journey Together
Andrew Ridgeley was a student at the Hertfordshire-based Bushey Meads School when his teacher introduced George Michael as a new kid. Andrew immediately took George under his wing and began showing him around the place. Moreover, with time the two also discovered their shared passion for music, which cemented the start of a remarkable friendship. Besides, reports mentioned that George and Michael played together in several music groups throughout their high school years before starting WHAM! on their own.
Naturally, like all new groups, WHAM! faced quite a bit of trouble in the initial years as producers and record labels refused to listen to their tracks. In fact, in the documentary, Andrew noted how they’d have to hound one producer after the other, only to get turned away at the end of the day. However, luckily they had a personal connection with Mark Dean from Innervision Records, and he finally agreed to listen to their WHAM! mixtape. Although this tape just consisted of George’s vocals over Andrew’s guitar, Mark immediately recognized the potential and gave the duo their first record deal. Hence, Innervision Records produced WHAM!’s very first album before they went on to sign a more significant agreement with Epic Records.
As WHAM! released one chart-topping hit after the other, Andrew and George’s friendship never faltered, and they kept recognizing each other’s contribution towards the group’s success. In fact, apart from a bit of “friction” from time to time, the duo developed an almost familial bond as George even chose to come out as gay to Andrew before the rest of his family. Moreover, even when Geroge began talking about his dreams of recording a solo track and embarking on a solo career, Andrew never got jealous and instead acknowledged that his friend had superior ability. So, by 1986, George insisted he wanted to make music for a more mature audience, and hence Andrew got to play one last concert with his friend in Wembley Stadium before the eventual split.
Did George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley Remain Friends?
Yes! We are happy to report that George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley stayed friends even after WHAM!’s split in 1986. Although several media outlets hinted that the latter might not have been happy with his former bandmate’s solo career, he soon put an end to such rumors by stating, “I was thrilled to pieces with his development into the artist that he became. He was my best friend. It is so alien and bizarre to me that anyone would feel otherwise. I genuinely don’t understand it.” Nevertheless, the friends had physically gone their separate ways, with George pursuing a music career while Andrew tried his hand out at Formula 3 racing as well as acting.
Still, the two never lost contact, and sources have indicated that George often visited Andrew after he settled in a farmhouse in Wadebridge, Cornwall, around 1994. In fact, the two stayed in touch until George’s sudden death in 2016, which left his friend completely devastated. Later, Andrew described his feelings on the demise in his 2019 autobiography, where he said, “The reality felt catastrophic and it was hard to get a handle on what had happened. For the next couple of days I felt lost and stayed in London because the press had descended upon my home in Cornwall. But I wasn’t in a position to talk about George at that time. I felt crushed by sadness.” So, to this day, Andrew continues honoring George’s legacy, and their friendship is truly inspirational to future generations.