As the world honours the late, great George Michael, we’re serialising the star’s Attitude cover profile from May 2004. Typically forthright, the ‘Outside’ singer spoke to us about everything from the closet and celebrity culture to open relationships, New Labour and cruising.
Today marks the final instalment in an unflinching five-part series which captured the sparky, plain-spoken spirit that made George Michael an inspiration to so many, both gay and straight alike.
In part five, the singer discusses his relationship with his fellow stars, and reveals which artists he believes will be around in 10 years time - aka now - with one answer in particular particular poignant in light of what was to come. Read the previous instalment here.
Part 5 of 5
This interview first appeared in Attitude issue 212, May 2004. Words by Adam Mattera
Why did you rework 'Flawless' for the album?
Don't you think that's like my first proper queen's record? They're going to go mental to that one. I'll have to go to DTPM just one night to see it. It's supposed to be about that Pop Idol mentality applied to a young gay man. That idea of getting out of the dull as dishwater town you're in and to London or whatever. But I wanted to camp it a bit more and so many people I know loved that record. When I was trying to decide whether to use that track or not, one night I arranged to meet this guy. I told him who I was but I don't think he really believed me. Anyway we arranged for me to pick him up outside a station and he nearly had a heart attack cause it was me! The truth of the matter is nothing happened, because this guy was so freaked out cause he was a massive fan and just within two minutes of chatting to him about this and that, I asked him about music. He was talking about late '70s funk and all the stuff I like, and then he said 'but I love that 'Flawless' track that came out last year'. And I thought ‘fuck someone is trying to tell me something here.’
Of artists today, who will still be around in 10 years time?
Musically? Possibly Chris Martin. Sometimes those people's careers can be cut shorter because band loyalty means you're tied to the restrictions of the band, but as an individual I think he's a very talented guy. Jamelia is hot. For a British R&B that is a serious track. I meant to email her and tell her, I think it shows a lot of potential. We could absolutely sell her to America, which is something you couldn't say about most of our R&B artists. Amy Winehouse, maybe. It's not easy to make a whole career out of something so esoteric, but maybe.
I wasn't really thinking of American artists. Well she could be, she's got a very good voice. But it's so heartless, Don't you think? She's still a bit Mickey Mouse Club.
You said in The Big Issue recently "I always believed I would outlast everyone else, with the possible exception of Madonna". What do you make of her current position?
Well, I think people aren't used to seeing her fuck up three or four times in a row. They're used to seeing her fuck up once, possibly twice and then doing something really good. And she's made a couple of mistakes in a row so everyone's jumping all over her. But all she has to do is make another great record. She is perfectly capable of coming back and doing something wicked. I must admit, I do think she's probably moved so successfully into being a mother and wife that I don't think she has the clarity of vision about what’s going to work that maybe she had before, good luck to her. Her family’s much more important than keeping MTV happy.
Okay, I have a few quick questions to round off, things like…
How big is your cock? [laughs].
Yeah, top or bottom?
No, actually, the first one's did you write 'Bag It Up' for Geri? Everyone thought you did.
No! Did people think that? Of course I didn't! [laughing] If I was going to write a song for a friend, then it would be better than that! I've never written anything for her. Bless her. Kenny played me something down the phone the other day that she's worked on and she's done a really nice little bossa nova, like an Astrud Gilberto summery track. It's lovely. I was quite shocked, actually. It'd be lovely to see her have a hit single this year.
I thought she was doing a cover of 'Cherish'.
What? By Kool & The Gang?
Madonna! Oh, bless her heart. I wouldn't put it past her. I hope not.
Is Aretha still on your Christmas card list?
No, I've never had a Christmas card list. I'm not that polite. Kenny likes to get little notes to people after a dinner party, but it's just not me. I'm not really one for etiquette. I'm very polite but I'm not into that.
What song in your career has earnt you the most money?
That's a hard one. Oh I know, though actually I didn't make the money. Because it gets rereleased every year and the money still goes to charity. It's Last Christmas. It's one of the biggest selling records never to have been number one. We did three million in the UK alone the year it came out and they've been releasing it ever since — occasionally it's number one in Japan at Christmas and weird things like that. That's the biggest earner. If something starts out as a charity record, it's always a charity record. 4 or 5 of the tracks on the Greatest Hits were originally charity records. So hopefully if the album takes off in America, and then the Greatest Hits starts selling again, some of these charities can get like 100 grand a year lust from being on there.
Who's the most famous person on your mobile?
No-one on my mobile, because I hardly ever use it. In my phone book, maybe... the most famous person is... do you have to have called them regularly? Oh, I don't know. Ask me some names.
Jody Watley? Jody Watley! [George did a duet with Jody in the late '80s] I haven't spoken to her for years and years, bless her. We had the same manager in the late 80s, that's how that single ['Learn To Say No'] came about. But I heard it recently on the internet. I haven't heard it for like 20 bloody years, but it sounded pretty good, actually! I'm gonna put it on the Duets album when it comes out.
There's going to be a Duets album? With some new ones?
Yeah. Which is going to be really exciting, but I can't say who yet.
I've done Whitney!
No, is Whitney in your phone book?
Do you think anyone would pick up? I shouldn't say that. No, I don't have Whitney's home number. I don't think many people have Whitney's home number. Bless her heart.
Mary J Blige?
Tony Blair? No. If I did I think he would have changed it by now, don't you? He probably has my number, that's the scary thing. Do you know what I mean? I'm probably under fucking surveillance for all I know!
No phone number. We had a bit of a falling out many years ago. I won't go any further than that.
I've think we've exhausted it, George.
Good. You've got plenty of material there. You know more than my fucking therapist knew in the first ten years of knowing me.
Read all five parts of George Michael's May 2004 cover interview here. Images by James Dimmock