By Scoop Malinowski
Status: Former English singer, songwriter, performer. Founding member of group Wham!
DOB: June 25, 1963 (Died Dec. 25, 2016) In: East Finchley, Great Britain
First Music Memory: The first record I bought was Carly Simon. I played the violin as a kid. I wasn’t any good because I didn’t enjoy it. I played drums when I was 12.
Childhood Dream: I wanted to be a pop star. Attention is what I must have wanted in my childhood. I wanted to… I had no idea I could sing and no idea I would play, so God knows how I thought I was going to do it. But I definitely had the feeling I was going to be in showbusiness as a pop star.
Inspirations: Ska, Elvis Costello, B-52s, Bee Gees, David Cassidy, Elton John.
Pre-Performance Feeling: I like to be in the venue thirty minutes before the show. The great moment is when you’re waiting in the wings and the drum machine starts for Everything She Wants. At that moment, when you hear all the screaming, I think, ‘God, we’re the luckiest bastards in the world.’ We’re so used to going out in front of people who love us.
Early Music Memory: Our first band was called The Executive, me and Andrew (Ridgeley) vocals and four others. We sounded terrible together. We used to hang out at a club called Le Beat Route. We were grooving on the dance floor to a rap song, I said, “…Wham Bam! I am a man!”… So we wrote Wham Rap from that. We lifted the name Wham from that and added the exclamation point.
Greatest Career Moment: The most exciting moment was our first performance on (the popular BBC show in late 1982) “Top of the Pops.” We did Wham Rap. The song was only no. 42 on the charts so we were very fortunate to be invited to perform after another act had to cancel. Wham! exploded after that. Our next song Young Guns reached no. 3 on the charts.
Most Painful Moment: The Bad Boys video is my absolute all time career low, mainly because, by the time we got around to making it, I had forgotten that it was meant to be a joke. It was just the worst thing in our entire career. We look like such a pair of wankers in it. How could anybody look at those two people on screen doing what we’re doing in that video, with all those camp dancers prancing around in the background… and think it’s good? We lost a lot of ground with that video.
First Jobs: British Home Stores. Cinema usher. DJ at night at a pub in Harrow.
Strangest Performance: We did two in China in Hong Kong and Peking (1985). It was depressing and barren. I’ll never go there again.
Most Memorable Performances: North American Tour in 1985. It was the best tour we ever had. The highlight was at Hollywood Park race course in front of 60,000 fans (August 30, 1985). The atmosphere was so charged. It was very physical and very sexual up there. Our “Final” concert at Wembley Stadium on June 28, 1986. How can you end Wham! more perfectly than in front of 70,000 people, still good friends, with a record (Edge of Heaven) at no. 1?
Funny Career Memory: I got a boot in the face at the LA gig (Whamamerica! Tour 1985). Somebody threw a f—— boot! And stilettoes… People throw stilettoes at you. And that was only the boys.
Interesting Fact: Wham! sold in excess of 30,000,000 records from 1982-1986.
On Bruce Springsteen: I’ve seen Springsteen twice now. I enjoyed the show but I find it all very unremarkable compared to the reports. I suppose if you go along with the idea that it’s like going to church it’s quite acceptable. I like to watch audiences during gigs because I find that euphoria good to watch. Both times I expected something really magical to happen but I just didn’t see it. I think Springsteen’s an incredible performer.
(Sources: Wham! The Official Biography by Luke Crampton and various other interviews collected over the years.)