George Michael, In His Own Words

George Michael
George Michael poses at the 'George Michael: A Different Story' photocall, Berlin, Germany, February 16, 2005. A postmortem on his body was inconclusive. Sean Gallup/Getty

This article, and others about the life and death of the pop icon George Michael, are featured in Newsweek's Special Commemorative Edition: George Michael.

On His Parents

"It's only when the kids are in their late 20s that families really face up to what they are. You've gone out into the world—you've probably got a family of your own—and you're finally in a position to look back and see if your own family was normal. I suppose enough of the damage your parents have done to you has left you by then too. It was at that age I realized how dysfunctional my childhood was…. But you know, a lot of people with a childhood like that turn it to their advantage. The fact I had my father as an adversary was such a powerful tool to work with. I subconsciously fought him to the degree that I drove me to be one of the most successful musicians in the world.... It's a good coincidence, in a way, to have both musical ability and a lack of self-belief, a kind of damage, that drives you on like an insane person."

"[My father] never displayed any disappointment or homophobia. I'm sure he felt it, and it was hard for him, but he didn't lay any of it onto me, which I have to thank him for. This is sad, but I do feel success can negate a parent's disappointment. I genuinely feel that although his son is gay and not going to give him any grandkids, my dad's consolation is that I have done well in life."

On 'George Michael'

"I created a man—in the image of a great friend—that the world could love if they chose to, someone who could realize my dreams and make me a star. I called him George Michael, and for almost a decade, he worked his arse off for me, and did as he was told. He was very good at his job, perhaps a little too good."

"I never minded being thought of as a pop star. People have always thought I wanted to be seen as a serious musician, but I didn't, I just wanted people to know that I was absolutely serious about pop music."

On Anselmo Feleppa

"It's very hard to be proud of your sexuality when it hasn't given you any joy, but once you have found somebody you really love...it's not so tough. [Anselmo] broke down my Victorian restraint, and really showed me how to live, how to relax, how to enjoy life."

"[His death] was untimely, but that way he never lost his dignity, and I suppose I was spared the worst of what some people go through. But I'm still convinced that had he been in the U.S.A. or London, he would have survived, because just six months later everyone was on combination therapy [that would have helped him]."

"One of the most heartbreaking things I ever saw was when I went into Anselmo's room one afternoon and he was sitting there in bed with his prayer cards. I just thought to myself, 'Please don't tell me you think you're going to hell.' It makes me so angry and I sincerely hope he didn't fear that."

On His Sexuality

"I spent the first half of my career being accused of being gay when I hadn't had anything like a gay relationship. So I spent my years growing up being told what my sexuality was...which was kind of confusing. My depression at the end of Wham! was because I was beginning to realize I was gay, not bi…. I felt cornered by my own ambition. I didn't have the self-control to restrain my ego, but I knew it was leading me further and further towards an explosive end. I was becoming absolutely massively popular as a heterosexual male. And in here...in here, [points to heart] I was gay."

"In terms of my work, I've never been reticent in terms of defining my sexuality. I write about my life."

"It's amazing how much more complicated it became because I didn't come out in the early days. I often wonder if my career would have taken a different path if I had."

On Stalkers

"There's one woman, she broke into my house seven times. The police did nothing. And I saw her down the road one day wearing my clothes."

"I'm just not security-minded, and I have a feeling that if you think that way, bad [things] come to you. If someone really wants to hurt you, they'll find a way whatever. I don't want to live my life worrying about it…. Listen, if I had children, I would be Mr. Security. I'd have all the trappings because I would be neurotic on their behalf."

On Princess Di

"I think we clicked in a way that was a little bit intangible, and it probably had more to do with our upbringing than anything else. She was very like a lot of women who've been attracted to me because they see something non-threatening. Maybe it's because I take care of my sisters; women seem to smell that. So women who had a hard time growing up... you know…."

"I feel guilty because she did really like me as a person, and I tended to shy away from calling her because I thought she must have so many people calling her for all the wrong reasons. I knew she was so suspicious of people by then, so I would almost treat her the way I know some people treat me. I would presume it was an intrusion to call, when actually you know they're lonely and would love to hear a friendly voice."

On the State of Pop Music

"I watch people who are not driven by creativity anymore, and I think how dull it must be to produce the same kind of thing. If you don't feel you're reaching something new, then don't do it."

On a "Typical" Day

"I normally get up about 10 a.m., my PA will bring me a Starbucks, I'll have a look at my emails. At the moment I've got nothing that pressurized. Then, if I'm in the mood, I'll come up to the office in Highgate, do some work, writing, backing tracks or whatever. Come home. Kenny will be here, the dogs are here. Maybe eat locally, hang out, and then probably go off and have a shag or have someone come here and have a shag [laughs]."

On the Trappings of Fame

"I do get anyone I want. But I like a bit of everything...I have a laugh."

On Becoming a Better Man

"There are things I need to resolve. And I think I'll be a much better writer when I've got through those things. But it's great to know that I'm still very much a changing person."

"I haven't had any dark days for a long time now, but there was a point when that was all I had. I just used to sleep and sleep. Some days I could barely put one foot in front of the other; it was real depression."

The preceding George Michael quotes appeared in interviews with CNN, GQ, The Independent and The Guardian in 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2009, respectively.

This article, written by Senior Editor Tim Baker, was excerpted from Newsweek's Special Commemorative Edition: George Michael. For more on the life and legacy of the groundbreaking superstar, pick up a copy today.

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