Tag Archives: 1980s

George Michael dies at age 53

British singer George Michael, who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist, died at his home in England on Sunday. He was 53.

In the mid-1980s, Wham! was one of the most successful pop duos ever, with singles like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Careless Whisper”, “Last Christmas” and “The Edge of Heaven.”

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period,” his publicist said in a statement.

“The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage,” the statement said.

British police said Michael’s death was “unexplained but not suspicious.”

Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou June 25, 1963 in London to Greek Cypriot immigrant parents in a flat above a north London laundrette, Michael once played music on the London underground train system before finding fame with Wham!.

With a school friend, Andrew Ridgeley, he formed Wham! in 1981, a partnership that would produce some of the most memorable pop songs and dance-floor favorites of the 1980s.

“I am in deep shock,” said Elton John. “I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans. @GeorgeMichael #RIP.”


The duo had their first hit with their second release “147;Young Guns (Go For It)” (1982) before their debut release “Wham Rap” became a hit the following year. The 1984 album “Make It Big” was a huge success in the United States.

“No way could I have done it without Andrew,” Michael once said. “I can’t think of anybody who would have been so perfect in allowing something which started out as a very naive, joint ambition, to become what was still a huge double act but what was really … mine.”

But Michael was keen to reach beyond Wham!’s teenage audience and to experiment with other genres. Wham! announced their split in 1986.

A pilot solo single “I Want Your Sex” was banned by daytime radio stations but was one of his biggest hits.

“I want your sex, I want you, I want your sex,” he sang. “So why don’t you just let me go, I’d really like to try, Oh I’d really love to know, When you tell me you’re gonna regret it, Then I tell you that I love you but you still say no!”

In the space of the next five years, Michael had six U.S. No. One hit singles including “Faith”, “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” “Praying For Time” and a duet with Aretha Franklin “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me.”

Questions about his sexuality were raised when he was arrested in 1998 for “engaging in a lewd act” in a public restroom of the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, California.

“I feel stupid and reckless and weak for letting my sexuality be exposed that way,” Michael told CNN at the time. “But I do not feel shame )about my sexual orientation”, neither do I think I should.”

“I can try to fathom why I did what I did,” he continued, “but at the end of the day, I have to admit that maybe part of the kick was that I might get found out,” he told CNN.

Though he had relationships with women and once told family members that he was bisexual, Michael, then 34, said he was gay.

“Rest with the glittering stars, George Michael,” said Star Trek actor and LGBT rights activist George Takei. “You’ve found your Freedom, your Faith. It was your Last Christmas, and we shall miss you.”

While Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in power, Michael voted for Britain’s opposition Labour Party but criticized Tony Blair’s support for George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“Sad to hear that George Michael has died,” said current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. “He was an exceptional artist and a strong supporter of LGBT and workers’ rights.”

Michael’s death comes at the end of a year that has seen the passing of several music superstars, including David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. Rick Parfitt, the guitarist of British rock group Status Quo, died on Saturday at 68.

Scott Walker quotes nuclear war song in economic speech

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he knows a 1980s song he quoted to make a point about Wisconsin’s economy is about nuclear war.

Walker this week quoted the Timbuk3 song, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” while speaking at an economic development summit.

Walker even briefly donned a pair of dark sunglasses to make his point.

He quoted the 1986 song’s lyrics at both the beginning and end of his speech and again when speaking with reporters afterward.

When asked if he knew the song was about a pending nuclear war, Walker said, “That’s why I didn’t quote the whole song. Having been from the 1980s, I actually know the words.”

The band Timbuk3 was formed in Wisconsin.

Celebrating early hip-hop in Netflix’s The Get Down

As Baz Luhrmann walks on set for the press day of his first television series, The Get Down, he can’t separate his professional self from his personal self and settles in by directing his own interview.

Ever so apologetically, he makes suggestions to the crew and even asks for a monitor to see how the shot is being framed. After gesturing to the camera operator that it was a little wide, he suggests that the reporter move closer to the right to create the optimal eye line.

It’s that attention to detail that Luhrmann has been associated with throughout his career, evident in such films as Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby.

Now he’s tackling the early years of hip-hop as told through the mythical eyes of several young people living in the mid-1970s south Bronx.

The 13-episode series , which premiered Aug. 12 on Netflix, takes place before a hit record made its way into the mainstream.

Luhrmann serves as the show’s executive producer, writer and director.

He worked closely on the project with writer Nelson George, executive producer Nas and Grandmaster Flash, portrayed in the show.

Q: How did you decide to take on this story?

Baz Luhrmann: I was just driven to answer this question, which was, ‘How did so much pure and new creativity come out of a moment where this city seemed to be on its knees, in such trouble.’ And just pursuing this question led me down a road where I met Nelson (George) and I reached out to (Grandmaster) Flash and (DJ Cool) Herc, Kurtis Blow, and Crash and Daze, the legendary Lady Pink.

What did you see that you could add your touch the organic years of hip-hop?

Luhrmann: The more I went down that road into the story looking for the answer, the more I wanted to find a way to not put my touch on it, but just to curate a way for that story to be told because most people, as Flash says, most people think this form of music came out in the 80s.

Do you feel hip-hop is a tale of American ingenuity?

Luhrmann: In this country, particularly, actually in times that are difficult, or from corners of America where you least expect it, unbelievable pure creativity has welled up. Generally because of the cross-fertilization… a Scott Joplin tune becomes jazz, becomes blues, and becomes rock ‘n’ roll.

What were your earliest memories of the era?

Luhrmann: What was so fascinating was it was more my recollection of New York.

In 1977, I was probably about 15.

I remember Elvis dying… I had a friend that came back from New York, and I said, ‘What’s it like?’ and he said, ‘Oh man. It’s amazing. Just wear a coat and don’t look anyone in the eye because it’s that dangerous.’… Disco was huge. …And there was punk. So that really stuck in the back of my mind. And then years later, I went on to work with great people from the hip-hop world. I made a record with Jay Z, Gatsby. That was one of the greatest collaborations I’ve ever been involved with.

Milwaukee to premiere AIDS-related film starring Kenosha native

Milwaukee has been selected as one of five cities for an early premiere of an HBO film.

“The Normal Heart” stars Kenosha native Mark Ruffalo as well as Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Alfred Molina.

It’s based on the Tony Award-winning play by Larry Kramer and is about the AIDS crisis in early 1980s New York.

Brad Pitt is producer.

The movie will be shown at the Landmark Oriental Theatre on May 21.

Milwaukee was selected along with Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco to see the film before it airs May 25 as part of a partnership between Milwaukee Film and HBO.

HBO spokesman Mike Hopper says Milwaukee is one of the top markets for “Game of Thrones” viewership, so there is a definite audience for HBO in Milwaukee.

John Grant’s tour arrives to Milwaukee June 26

Openly gay artist John Grant is on tour, making a stop in Milwaukee on June 26 to play Turner Hall.

Grant, who recently released “Pale Green Ghosts,” has journeyed from a place where he thought he’d never again make music or escape substance abuse to winning awards, collaborating with Sinead O’Connor, Rumer and Hercules & Love Affair and having his music featured in the film “Weekend.”

Grant studied languages in Germany and, after his band The Czars split up, based himself in New York, London, Berlin and, most recently, Iceland, where the bulk of “Pale Green Ghosts” was recorded. It’s also been a journey from The Czars’ folk/country noir to the lush 1970s alchemy of “Queen Of Denmark” to the fusion of sounds that lift “Pale Green Ghosts.”

That album’s name comes from the opening title track, which documents the drives that Grant regularly took through the 1980s, from his home in Parker, Colo., to nearby Denver, where he found the new wave clubs that inspired the electronic elements of “Pale Green Ghosts.”

“I’d take the I-25, between Denver and Boulder, which was lined with all these Russian olive trees, which are the pale green ghosts of the title: they have this tiny leaves with silver on the back, which glow in the moonlight,” Grant says. “The song is about wanting to get out of a small town, to go out into the world and become someone and made my mark.”

A tune that Grant heard in those clubs was Sinead O’Connor’s “Mandinka.” Two decades later, O’Connor supplies backing vocals on “Pale Green Ghosts.”

On the Web…

John Grant’s “Pale Green Ghosts.”

John Grant’s website.

Turner Hall. 

Actress Meredith Baxter reveals she is a lesbian

NEW YORK (AP) — Meredith Baxter, who played mother Elyse Keaton on the 1980s TV series “Family Ties,” has revealed that she is a lesbian.

“I am a lesbian, and it was a later-in-life recognition of that fact,” the 62-year-old actress said in an interview Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show.

Baxter said she has been in a relationship with her girlfriend, a general contractor, for four years.

“Some people are saying, were you living a lie? And, you know, the truth is, not at all. This has only been in the past seven years,” she said.

Baxter has been married three times, including to David Birney, her co-star on the ‘70s TV series “Bridget Loves Bernie.” She is the mother of five children.

Baxter said she is “extraordinarily happy” and the support from her family and friends was immediate and unqualified.