On November 14, 1987, English singer-songwriter George Michael would see his solo career take off when his debut album Faith topped the UK charts. The album would be a massive success for Michael in his new venture as a solo artist. In 1996, another English singer-songwriter, Robbie Williams, formerly of Take That, would cover Michael's Freedom '90 to launch his own solo career.
George Michael began his musical career as part of the duo known as Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The pair became one of the most popular pop music acts of the '80s, and their second album, Make It Big, would propel Wham! into worldwide fame, topping the charts in the UK and the US. As part of the Second British Invasion of the US, Wham! released three mega hits from that album, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Everything She Wants," and "Careless Whisper."
Wham! released a farewell single, "The Edge of Heaven," released a greatest hits album, The Final, followed by a same-titled farewell concert. On June 28, 1986, Wham! bid farewell to their fans in a concert supported by several other artists that 72,000 people attended.
George Michael & Robbie Williams' solo careers
In 1996, William covered Michael's "Freedom '90," a song Michael released in 1990. This would launch William's solo career, and the song would reach No. 2 on the UK charts, outdoing the original, which climbed to No. 8 in the US.
In 2016, just days after Michael's death, Williams would honor the singer during his New Year's Eve concert at London's Westminster's Central Hall. He riled the crowd declaring "This song is dedicated to the legendary George Michael." The crowd responded with cheers, knowing he would perform his cover of "Freedom '90."
Below is Williams performance of the song from 2018 Big Bang.
A duet with the legendary singer Aretha Franklin would kick off Michael's solo career with the song "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." The song leaped to No. 1 in the UK and US, fulfilling Michael's dream of singing with one of his favorite artists.
Faith was released in October 1987 with the first single, "I Want Your Sex." Banned by many radio stations for the suggestive lyrics, the song's video would only be played during late hours on MTV. Radio personality and American Top 40 host Casey Kasem refrained from speaking the title, referring to the song, which hit No. 2 on the charts, as "the new single from George Michael."
Despite the controversy of the first single, Faith peaked at No. 1 on the UK and US charts and stayed in the top 10 for 51 non-consecutive weeks on Billboard 200. The album saw four No. 1 singles, "Faith," "Father Figure," "One More Try", and "Monkey." One of the best-selling albums of all time, Faith won Album of the Year at the 31st Grammy Awards, and in 1989, Michael's won Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, and Favorite Soul/R&B Album at the American Music Awards.