To exclude, to expel:
Six years after his death, a new series of documentaries and flashbacks about the beloved Wham has arrived! frontman George Michael – and one of George’s closest friends paid tribute to his memory
George Michael is being celebrated everywhere you look right now, as two new films come out about the legendary singer’s life – Freedom Uncut and George Michael: Portrait of an Artist.
The latter features an appearance by Stevie Wonder and Stephen Fry as they discuss George as a person and as a creator of music.
The director of the documentary, Simon Napier-Bell, is the manager of Wham! from 1983 to 1986. He was the driving force behind the band’s popular Beijing concert and worked with them when they released their legendary hit, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, which won number one in both the UK and the US.
Speaking to the Mirror, he discussed how it feels to work, travel, laugh and argue with the legendary singer.
“In 30 to 40 years as an artist manager, you often ask the question ‘what the hell am I doing’, maybe I should become a politician or a doctor or a lawyer, and suddenly an artist Doctor comes and makes you feel. ‘doing is worthwhile, that you haven’t wasted your life, and that’s really what George did,’ he said.
“He made me feel like everything I learned as a manager could be successfully used in a way that helps someone express themselves.”
He added that George is “really good … like anyone I’ve ever met,” at balancing his creativity with an understanding of the money-hungry music industry.
But he didn’t just make life easy with the people he worked with. “There is a large following of fans who have found something in his music that makes them feel better about themselves.
“A lot of them say his songs are like therapy.
“That’s why manager George feels better than anyone else I’ve ever managed.”
Napier-Bell recalls a self-sufficient artist who was able to create moments of anticipation, brilliance, and joy. “As a manager, he has removed a lot of worries about creativity and I am happy and confident with what he has come up with.”
But that doesn’t mean the pressure doesn’t increase.
After a while of not releasing any music when they parted ways with Innervision, Wham! is in the process of being reborn with the new label CBS.
“That new record has to be number one. It just needs to be. We spent a lot of money and George didn’t look out for the public for eight months,” he continued.
DX / Matt Devine)
“I’m very worried because if it doesn’t go as planned, it will be a disaster.
“He came around the house and put it on. And the first two words you get are ‘jitter error’ and [they] so perfect that i took [the record] Turn off. I thought this was going to be so good I couldn’t stand here and listen to it so I put it back on – I put myself on a chair to listen and turn up the volume.
“And that was Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
“It was just the most special bit of the meeting between modern pop-rock and old fashioned swings. Especially.”
Simon’s relationship with Michael goes deeper than just manager and customer; they spent time together on the road and talked about what it would be like to be “with friends” together.
“We argued, but the way you argue with friends. We don’t always see each other’s eyes. He called me a joke. I said I’m a realist… I think he’s pretty cynical,” Simon said.
“I remember an airplane journey where we spent six hours debating who was the skeptic and who was the realist. I think that’s going well.
George “talks very well” and their relationship is not about “hanging out and getting drunk”, but good conversations.
“George is very outspoken and when it comes to opinions, he never thinks he can be wrong.
“He used to say if I was telling you something and you didn’t agree, it was because you weren’t listening properly.
“He really believes everything he says.
Something about George that continues to be referred to today is his famous acts of generosity, but Simon points out that this was also part of the pain he carried.
“He is very attentive. Some say he’s impulsive, maybe he is.
“He’s very generous – I’ve never seen him give money to charity so wastefully,” he said.
“I think he feels he has more money than he should have and he lives a very good life. He has helped a lot of people. He did a great job and why should anyone have more money than they need. And I think that affected his mind quite a bit – a kind of guilt.
“He was keen to help anyone he came in contact with who needed immediate help. That’s why when he’s watching TV, he’ll see someone need new glasses or a set of teeth, he’ll answer the phone lightning fast.
“But he knows he can’t help everyone.
“He knows that when he does those things, they become money, and I think that’s what upsets him – because even if we are generous, it’s just being generous because of it. only helped one or two people, not the whole world – and he let it live. “
Revelli-Beaumont / Sipa / REX / Shutterstock)
While making the film, Simon recalls Stevie Wonder: “You could hear the pain in his voice. You can hear crying.”
However, in Simon’s eyes, George was also very playful, teasing, and kind.
The two traveled to the US together to film Careless Whisper. “I said I would get there first and I was a bit late and he had to defend himself against the onlookers and was a bit annoyed.
“When you’re George Michael, you don’t have to go to the airport alone, but he doesn’t want security and so it’s just us together,” he said.
“Two girls asked for his autograph and I pushed them away. George said, ‘don’t push them away, they can come get my autograph’.
“Then, five minutes later, a woman came and said, ‘May I have your autograph?’ so I let her stay with George and he said, “‘I don’t want this, why don’t you keep everyone away?’
“Then we got on the plane and they kept bringing us glasses of champagne. George said he didn’t want mine and I said give his anyway.
“So I drank his wine too and he said ‘I don’t want to travel with a drunk – you mean my manager and guard today’.
“But when the landlady came a second time with brand new glasses, this time George said he would have one.
“So they gave him one and I took mine and then when I finished mine he said, ‘I’ll get it for you.
“That is [him] kind, that’s typical of George playing a game. I had some very beautiful moments with George. ”
George Michael: Artist Portrait is available on Apple TV and can be purchased via Amazon Prime Video.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/george-michaels-generosity-came-guilt-27254355 Manager says George Michael's generosity comes from guilt over 'too much money'