George Michael got his start as the lead singer of the popular duo Wham! in the early '80s, becoming a direct rival to the Culture Club. And Wham! gave the other pop groups from the U.K. a run for their money.
After the group's debut album "Fantastic" became a success in the U.K., the duo had a worldwide breakthrough with their sophomore album "Make It Big." They scored a series of worldwide hits, including "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Careless Whisper," "Freedom" and "Everything She Wants."
The duo maximized on their success with a followup album "Music from the Edge of Heaven" in 1986, scoring more hits "Last Christmas, "I'm Your Man" and "Edge of Heaven." But the pair's success ended after their third album, because George Michael was clearly the star of the duo. He embarked on a solo career, and went on to become one of pop music's greatest icons.
George Michael teamed up with the Queen of Soul to launch his solo career with "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" in 1987, scoring his first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 as George Michael. "I Want Your Sex" and the album's title single, "Faith," followed.
With his debut album "Faith," George Michael went from pop heartthrob to sex symbol. But not only that, "Faith" sold more than 10 million albums in the U.S., garnering diamond certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. And how could it not? The album gave us funky pop, R&B and soul with hits like "Father Figure" and "One More Try." "Faith" is now at #472 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.
George Michael's success continued into the '90s with his sophomore album "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" and his third studio album, "Older," showing longevity as an artist.
While he didn't come out as a gay man during the height of his success, but George Michael did come out in 1998—then becoming a gay rights activist and HIV/AIDS fundraiser.