For a brief period in the mid-1980s, Bang! was one of the biggest acts in the world. Having initially won over a teenage audience in Britain with their debut in 1983 Fantastic, Bang! went global with the appropriate title Do it big in 1984. As synthpop took over the airwaves, Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael leaned heavily into the more danceable elements of bubblegum music on tracks like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Freedom.”
When “Careless Whisper” arrived as a single in 1984, it was promoted in some countries as a George Michael solo single. Even though Ridgeley co-wrote the song, it was clear Michael was looking to make a name for himself outside of the band. After a turbulent 1985, in which the duo became one of the first Western bands to play in China, Ridgeley and Michael agreed to end Wham! in the early months of 1986.
Asked by Vulture Why He and Michael Never Reunited Over the next few years, Ridgeley pointed out that they actually got back together on several occasions. “The thing is, he and I performed several times afterwards – when he turned for Faith and we played Rock in Rio together in 1991,” Ridgeley explained. “But we resisted the lure of the reunion with firmness, as we pulled out and brought Wham! to its end”.
“His artistic destiny went beyond Wham! We understood quite early that one day the constraints that Wham! imposed on his songwriting scope were too narrow,” Ridgeley added. “He wouldn’t be able to fully develop as an artist within the parameters that Wham! together. Bang! was this representation and this manifestation of our youth. It was about the vigor, experience, vitality and exuberance of youth.
“We were no longer young at 23. We had become young men,” he said. “If you look at photos of Yog circa 1982, you’ll find he’s a totally unassuming, unassuming young man. And then when we watch him at Wembley Stadium for our last gig in 1986, he looks like God. The transformation was complete. He had become George Michael.
For Ridgeley, the fun and wacky elements of Wham! were always going to be fleeting. Although they were both still very young in 1986 (23, as Ridgley points out), teenage audiences had annoyed Ridgeley and smothered Michael. The only option was to move on, which Ridgeley had no qualms about.
“It was such a temporal, non-physical representation of our youth that it just couldn’t go with us,” he said. “We couldn’t drag Wham! until middle age. We couldn’t drag Wham! to perform “Young Guns (Go for It!)” at the age of 60. It was never going to work. Obviously, the temptation was there for both of us. Not so much money, but we enjoyed being on stage together. That’s why he invited me from time to time to play with him. But it wasn’t so Wham! Other people have seen Wham! but it was never in an official capacity.
“We wouldn’t do that to Wham!” It’s pretty much become an unspoken rule,” Ridgeley concluded. “We discussed it once: ‘We can’t reform and we can’t appear like Wham anymore!’ Because that would have been a betrayal of everything. Whoa! represented, really. It wasn’t supposed to be produced that way. So we never looked up to meet. I don’t think we were ever really approached to do it, because people knew we wouldn’t. But who knows. Maybe they just weren’t interested.
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