A moving, personal account of one of pop music’s iconic bands.
Almost 45 years ago, a young man named Andrew Ridgely met a shy, awkward, boy – with an almost unpronounceable name – who he nicknamed ‘Yog’. The new boy and Andrew would go on to become great friends, musical collaborators and then form pop music sensation, WHAM!
In his autobiography, WHAM! George & Me, Ridgely describes in lovingly-crafted detail, the 11-year journey from school mates to collaborators; from the dream of stardom to the heights of that dream becoming a reality.
Not a lot is said about his or George’s parents nor his upbringing, as is so often the case with an autobiography. There’s a bit of background then it’s straight into their first meeting and the decision to take this shy boy under his wing. From that first meeting, they became inseparable, much to the chagrin of George’s father, who had high academic hopes for his son.
The book covers their first efforts as a band, The Executive, to penning the song that would start them on the road to pop superstardom, WHAM! Rap, and through the short (two albums and three touring years) but tumultuous times that followed as WHAM! rose to the top of the charts and then called it a day. Ridgley guides the reader through it all with some incredible stops along the way. He talks about meeting their heroes, in person – the likes of Elton John and Freddie Mercury – to performing as part of Band Aid (at least, George did, Andrew missed it) and Live Aid.
At the end, as well, Ridgley’s book does what it says on the box – he jumps from that final concert to Christmas Day, 2016 when he received the devastating phone call from George’s sister, with just a little reflection on where his life went, after WHAM!
Andrew was the first to see the star that would become George Michael, and his description of the creative power that he saw is outlined in almost reverential detail. This is the love of a brother from another mother and it’s that love which springs forth from the page that makes this book a heart-warming page turner.
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: October 2019