George Michael died on Christmas Day 2016, and now his pop charts contemporary has revealed that “in the early days we were competition to each other”.
“Both called George, both made soul music, so in the early days, we were really in competition. Then sort of later on, I started to really appreciate him as a musician — you know, right around Faith. I started to really appreciate his talent.”
The pair emerged as two of the biggest stars of British pop in the early 1980s, and one of the reported differences between the two was over sexuality - while Boy George was famously out and cheeky with it, George Michael chose not to come out, until he was sensationally busted in Los Angeles in 1998.
This led to tension between the pair, notable when Boy George came to record his segment on the record-breaking Band Aid single. “Who’s that after me? Sounds really camp,” was Boy George’s comment as he put his headphones on, referring to George Michael’s voice.
However, this week, Boy George has described the atmosphere of that era as being one where “we all used to be really bitchy about each other”.
He laughed: “It’s like the thing you did in the ‘80s with those pop magazines. Now it’s the (Real) Housewives who do it. But in the ‘80s, you just said vile things about everyone.”
“I used to think of George Michael as being mechanical, like a scientist in a white coat, working in a laboratory, creating perfect harmonies, and all the while I was secretly admiring him.
“We did a song together once, and had the opportunity to do some bits again, but I couldn’t be bothered. And George went and spent hours re-recording, and of course it sounded amazing.”
Both Georges each suffered their problems with drugs, too, with Boy George overcoming his addiction to heroin, following a public intervention by his family.
Of George Michael’s problems later in his life, Boy George said that while the pair had stayed in touch “on and off” through the years, he knew little about the tragic superstar’s circumstances towards the end of his life.
“I read stuff in the papers,” he said. “But I never really knew really what ... he really kept people out, he was quite private.”
The reasons behind George Michael’s death on Christmas Day have yet to be revealed, with the results of the post-mortem “inconclusive” pending further tests.