Back in the mid-1980s, Wham! was a massive sensation that took over the music world. With their debut album “Fantastic” in 1983, they quickly captured the hearts of British teenagers. The duo, Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael, truly went global with their 1984 hit album “Make It Big.” In a time dominated by synthpop, Wham! focused on dance-infused bubblegum music, giving us catchy tunes like ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ and ‘Freedom’.
A turning point came with the release of ‘Careless Whisper’ in 1984.
Although co-written by Ridgeley, the song was often promoted as a solo track by George Michael. This move made it evident that George Michael was aiming to establish his individual identity beyond the duo. Following an eventful 1985 that included them becoming one of the first Western acts to perform in China, Ridgeley and Michael decided to bring Wham! to an end in early 1986.
In response to questions about why they never reunited, Ridgeley explained that they did come together for a few performances.
“He and I did perform several times subsequently — when he toured for Faith and we performed together at Rock in Rio in 1991.” However, they deliberately avoided the temptation of a full reunion. Ridgeley emphasized, “We resisted the lure of a reunion with steadfastness, because we retired and brought Wham! to a close.”
The reasons for this decision were deeply rooted in their artistic paths.
Ridgeley pointed out:
“His artistic destiny lay beyond Wham! We understood quite early that one day the constraints that Wham! imposed upon his songwriting scope were too narrow.”
They recognized that the framework of Wham! limited George Michael’s growth as an artist. Wham! was a representation of their youthful energy and vitality, but as they matured, they needed to move forward.
“We were no longer young at 23. We had become young men.”
He highlighted the transformation that had occurred, especially in George Michael’s image, from an unremarkable youth to a charismatic figure.
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For Ridgeley, the whimsical and youthful elements that defined Wham! were not meant to last.
Despite being in their early twenties in 1986, they both felt that the teenage audience had held them back. Moving on was the only logical choice, and Ridgeley had no reservations about it.
The dynamic duo’s decision to not reunite as Wham! was rooted in preserving the essence of the group.
“We couldn’t drag Wham! into middle age. We couldn’t drag Wham! into performing ‘Young Guns (Go for It!)’ at the age of 60.”
The passing of time would have changed the spirit of Wham! into something unrecognizable. The temptation to reunite was there, driven not so much by money but by their love for performing together. However, it wouldn’t have been the same as Wham!.
Ridgeley recalled their conversation, saying:
“We discussed it one time: ‘We cannot reform and we can’t appear again as Wham!’ Because it would’ve been a betrayal of everything Wham! stood for, really.” They realized that such a reunion wouldn’t be true to the essence of the group. Ridgeley concluded, “So we never raised our heads to reunite. I don’t think we were ever really approached to do so, because people knew we wouldn’t. But who knows. Maybe they just weren’t interested.”