06 January 2014
Wham! were an English musical duo formed by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980s. They were briefly known in the United States as Wham! UK due to a naming conflict with an American band. Wham! have sold more than 25 million certified records worldwide from 1982 to 1986.
Michael and Ridgeley met at Bushey Meads School in Bushey near the town of Watford in Hertfordshire. The two at first performed in a short-lived ska band called The Executive, alongside three of their former school friends David (Austin) Mortimer, Harry Tadayon and Andrew Leaver. When this group split, Michael and Ridgeley eventually formed Wham!, signing with Innervision Records, a contract from which they later sued to be released. Once that situation was resolved, they signed with CBS (Columbia Records in the United States and Canada, and Epic Records for the rest of the world).
Michael took on the majority of roles and responsibilities within the band—composer, producer, singer, and occasional instrumentalist. Still teenagers, they promoted themselves as hedonistic youngsters, proud to live a carefree life without work or commitment. This was reflected in their earliest singles which, part-parody, part-social comment, briefly earned Wham! a reputation as a dance protest group.
The debut record to be released by the band was "Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)" in June 1982. It was one of the first singles by a British group to include rapping, and was a double A-side including the Social Mix and the Anti-Social Mix. The record was not playlisted by BBC Radio 1 in the UK, partly because of the profanity in the Anti-Social Mix. Separate videos were recorded for each set of lyrics.
"Wham Rap!" did not chart for the group, but in October 1982 "Young Guns (Go for It!)" was issued. An appeal from one youthful lad to his friend to not throw his life away so early on marriage, it also stalled outside the UK Top 40. But soon, Wham! got lucky when the BBC programme Top of the Pops scheduled them. An important weekly BBC chart show on television, it had to look outside the Top 40 to fill a gap created by an act which had unexpectedly pulled out of the show. Nearest to the 40 mark and still climbing, Wham! was summoned, and a phenomenon immediately began. The Top of the Pops performance of "Young Guns" is still considered a watershed moment in the group's history—critical acclaim is given for the 'nightclub' feel of the dance routine by all four of the performers.
Wham! were an English musical duo formed by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980s. They were briefly known in the United States as Wham! UK due to a naming conflict with an American band.
Wham! have sold more than 25 million certified records worldwide from 1982 to 1986.