Andrew Ridgeley ‘envious’ of George Michael’s talent

The former Wham! star said he wanted to shine a light on George Michael’s ‘glory days’, nearly three years after his death.
The former Wham! star said he wanted to shine a light on George Michael’s ‘glory days’, nearly three years after his death.

Andrew Ridgeley has said he was never jealous of Wham! co-star George Michael’s success, but that he did envy his talent.

However, he said that there were no hard feelings when Michael went off to score a successful solo career after they split in 1986 following a relatively short stint as a duo.

Asked if he felt short-changed that Wham! had only lasted a few years, Ridgeley told The Graham Norton Show: “No. It all happened so quickly, and the success took us by surprise, but it had a finite lifespan.”

Graham Norton Show – London
Andrew Ridgeley during filming for The Graham Norton Show (Isabel Infantes/PA)

He added, of Michael: “I was never jealous of my best friend, but I was envious of his talent.

“I had achieved my ambition of being in a band and playing live and I wanted him to go on and realise his talent as much as he did.”

Following the band’s split, Michael went on to have a major career as a solo artist and became one of the biggest-selling artists of all time, while Ridgeley – who co-wrote Wham! hit Careless Whisper with Michael – largely avoided the limelight, although he released a solo album called Son Of Albert in 1990.

Ridgeley, 56, is now releasing a memoir about his friendship with Michael entitled Wham!, George And Me.

The book details his friendship with Michael over the years from their meeting in 1975 at Bushey Meads School to their rise to fame and success with hits including Last Christmas and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go in the 1980s.

It also covers the band’s farewell gig at London’s Wembley Stadium on June 28 1986, when they said goodbye to their fans and each other.

Michael died on Christmas Day in 2016 at the age of 53.

A post-mortem examination found he had died from heart disease and a build-up of fat in his liver, which can be linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

Ridgeley told Norton: “It seemed there was negativity after his death that threatened to overshadow his legacy, so I wanted to shift the perspective back on to the glory days and what was vibrant and exuberant about George’s life.”

Graham Norton Show – London
Host Graham Norton with (seated left to right) Andrew Ridgeley, Renee Zellweger, Lenny Henry, Louis Theroux and Guy Garvey (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Of his late best friend and co-star’s legacy, he added: “Personally, it’s our friendship – it will endure, it is eternal.

“For everyone else, he was an exceptional vocalist and songwriter. He was brilliant.”

Ridgeley was joined on the programme by Renee Zellweger, Louis Theroux, Sir Lenny Henry and the band Elbow.

The Graham Norton Show is on BBC One on Friday October 4 at 10.35pm.