Michael is considered a musical veteran in today's climate of
short-lived manufactured singers and bands.
But the career
of the outspoken singer has also been one dogged by ups and downs,
with his fair share of controversy, exemplified by his caution for
possession of cannabis in London.
He started out
in boy band Wham! as the lead singer alongside guitarist Andrew
Ridgeley, whom he met at school in north London.
The pair had a
massive following, carving out a huge fan young fan base with hits
such as Wake me Up Before You Go Go, Freedom and Last Christmas.
The group had
four best-selling albums, including a greatest hits release in
was born Georgios Panaytiotou, had his first stab at solo success
in 1984 with the ballad Careless Whisper, which went to number one.
performing with Wham! and it wasn't until 1986 that the duo went
their separate ways, with Ridgeley devoting his time to rally
driving and later becoming an environmental activist.
re-invented his image and released the singles A Different Corner,
Faith and I Want Your Sex.
taken from his number one album Faith which established him as one
of the UK's biggest solo talents.
While he still
appealed to young fans he also managed to gain a new older
following, ensuring massive record sales.
more than 10 million copies and earned Michael a best album Grammy
Listen Without Prejudice followed in 1990, which spawned the hit
single Praying for Time.
But he fell
out spectacularly with his record company in 1994 and tried to get
himself released from his contract which he had called "professional
court case ensued which Michael eventually lost, forcing him to
fulfil his contractual commitments and record two more songs -
Outside and As - to be used on a greatest hits album.
settled his differences with the company and parted company with
them in 2003.
Michael found himself in the firing line when he released the
single Shoot the Dog, which featured a cartoon video of Prime
Minister Tony Blair as US President George Bush's poodle.
There was a
particular backlash against it in US because it was seen as
anti-American, with Michael fearing he would be unable to the
return to the US.
huge publicity the single reached only number 12 in the UK charts.
Michael said he was thinking about retiring from the music
business, but later backtracked.
embarked on his first tour in more than a decade to mark his 25
years in the music business, with sold out UK dates beginning in
suffered a number of legal woes in recent years, starting when he
was arrested in a public toilet in Los Angeles after attempting to
solicit an undercover police officer in 1998.
for lewd conduct resulted in a $450 fine and 80 hours community
It also forced
Michael to admit he was gay, something he had refused to be drawn
on in the past.
Once he put
his sexuality in the public domain he became vocal about gay
issues, speaking publicly about the death of his partner Aselmo to
Aids in the early 1990s.
to achieve the heights of his early chart success but he was more
content in his personal life, often speaking glowingly about
long-term partner Kenny Goss.
In July this
year Michael admitted seeking "anonymous and no-strings
sex" on London's Hampstead Heath, which he described as
"the best cruising ground in London".
interview with BBC News he said he planned to take legal action
against a man who claimed he had a gay encounter with the singer
on the Heath, and he also said he planned to sue two photographers
But he denied
his planned civil partnership ceremony with Mr Goss was called off
over his "cruising" saying "it has never been an
issue between us".