As a musician, mainly a singer these last two decades, as I rarely sit and just play the piano (or any instrument, as I used to play several), the main thing I will identify myself with George Michael will be as a vocalist. Now, over the years, I have been extremely flattered and downright floored at times when I have had people tell me “MAN, you sound a LOT like George Michael.” To me, that was one of the most honorable things I could have ever heard or be given as a compliment, because in my eyes, he was one of the tops in terms of vocal talent and ability. There are few men who had that “gloss” that I truly appreciated, at least in my generation. That “stretchable” tenor, with an easy falsetto that could do seemingly anything. Gino Vannelli certainly had it, and in a different timbre, Kenny Loggins did as well. There are a few others. Daryl Hall for sure, and before him Johnny Mathis was a master at it. But George… well, George brought a different touch to this sound that, when crafted with his songwriting that was deeply personal, it caught the attention of millions to the tune of over 100 million albums sold over a 30 year period. He was also headstrong in both business life, didn’t let the record companies push him into their creative control, and by doing so, seemingly faded from the commercial limelight but never stopped working as his loyal fans continued to buy his material.
His passing ON Christmas Day 2016 has special significance in that it’ll forever change his song with Wham!, “Last Christmas” when heard from this point forward, and anytime his music is heard going forward, most will remember his passing on Christmas Day. I hope, that for most, it is the great legacy of music and unique, creative video that will be remembered.
I was concerned today when checking for any updates to his story – now known that heart failure was the probable cause of his death, just a day later – and while the first headline on CNN was “George Michael dies at 53”, the very next headline under that was “When George Michael Came Out on CNN”. I had to stop and ponder that one a moment.
I was looking for NEWS. That’s a story of an “incident” from 1998 – almost NINETEEN YEARS AGO. What part of that is a news story now? You’re CNN. REPORT THE EFFIN’ NEWS. THIS? THIS IS JUST THE EQUIVALENT OF GOSSIP PLACED HERE, TAKING ADVANTAGE OF DEATH TO GET CLICKS.
PROVE ME WRONG.
But, here’s the other, and really, main, point of this post.
He was a musician.
What on earth does it matter WHO he slept with?
Who do YOU sleep with?
I’m NOT ignoring the fact that later in the years of his career he didn’t get heavily involved in the LGBT community with great benefits and work but he was responsible for his own actions. This obsession that is placed by the news media on the sexuality of celebrities – or anyone for that matter – is absolutely ridiculous. When it does things for good, it’s glorified and when anything “goes wrong”, of course, it’s blown up a million times over for sure. But I guarantee you there’s just as many ‘straight’ people caught doing things in bathrooms too – they’re just not pop stars.
I’m also gonna say if you DO decide to do stuff in a public bathroom, straight, gay, or what have you, then you DESERVE to get in trouble, and I’m not defending his actions. Remember Ty Herndon? But it’s not the thing I’m going to remember him for, nor is it going to be his sexuality.
It’s so tiring, that anyone of any sexuality ever has to think about it being a “defining” characteristic of their personality in what would be a final description of the person they are, once they are gone. Not one of my friends that have passed away in the last year & a half have been described by their sexuality; not one, yet when I hear descriptions of George Michael, I hear stuff like “gay singer”, and I am just kind of stunned….. that’s just stupid to me…..no, he was just a “singer”, and a very good one at that.
It gets to me because even though I’m gay, to me, there are so many MORE things I am that I would rather be “defining” to who I am as descriptives…. I mean, I understand the inherent “struggle” but I’ve been out for almost 40 years….if I took society’s word I’d have never made it. Aren’t there other things in life to succeed at? And while I also understand different levels of family support, influence, etc., anyone close to me knows my story so they know that wasn’t necessarily cake walking so I’m not being insensitive. I’m just saying in the “big things” in life, sexuality must take its appropriate placement in things, and I mean that for everyone’s perception, including self AND society’s of others. Bluntly put: Normal people don’t walk around or write about who’s fucking who. So stop it.
But back to George…..
I’m going to remember him for the mastery at music, period. He gave me, as a singer, some awesome material and as a fan, some amazing memories. He was a unique and talented songwriter. He did things his way and wasn’t afraid to make decisions either as a business person or a songwriter, and I hope in further time, things written about him by the music historians are simply about his abilities as a singer and songwriter with maybe a slight nod to benefits he brought to the rights of the LGBT community with his efforts, with zero sensationalism towards his life as a “gay singer”. The time for that to stop – for all people of all sexualities – has come.