11 Mar 2004
||BBC Studios, London, England
And Elvis Are Dead
|MP: We can fairly
assume I think that you're among friends. The last time
you sat in that chair was 98 wasn't it?
George: 98 yeah
MP:It became quite a famous and controversial interview
didn't it, and had
an effect on your life in a sense?
George: I have to
thank you for that really because I suppose you allowed
me to put my point of view across. Actually I didn't let
you speak did I
come to think of it? But I just wanted to thank you.
After that interview
it was amazing. Maybe because i'd been off the telly for
a long time and
people felt I was quite unapproachable. After people
thought I was very
approachable and people were so nice to me. They spent
their whole time
telling me about their sexual exploits and where they'd
been caught out. It
was very entertaining for the best part of a year.
MP: So the public perception did change?
were so affectionate it was quite a surprise really.
nice surprise. In a way when you spend so much time
trying to feel what
your audience feels through this barrage of negative
publicity it reminded
me that people had affection for my career and what i'd
given them over the
years. It was quite alarmingly life changing really.
MP: But did it make you wonder why be frightened of
coming out in the first
place? You know you talk about the public perception of
people say so bloody what really?
George: I don't
think that was the central issue of it for me really. I
think the central issue was that I'd been so incredibly
private and had
decided years ago that I was going to deal with the fact
that the press was
all negative by just not taking part. I did know that to
a degree that
allowed them to make up their own character of what I
was supposed to be,
this kind of Howard Hughes, miserable, reclusive figure.
I think I changed
that perception because at that point I had to come
clean and just be who I
was and it turned out to be such a positive experience.
I think it made me
in general understand a lot more about myself. It's so
strange. It seems a
strange thing to say but it was a life changing incident.
MP: What about in America? Did public perception change
there towards you?
written that in America my career plummetted after that
incident. Truth was it had plummetted years before that.
America didn't really change except apart from being a
fairy i'm now
apparantly a communist.
MP: So you've got the double whammy?
George: In a way
i've decided that with this album I am going to make an
effort. I have a million die hard fans in the States
that always buy my
stuff. I think a million people is a lot of people so I
think I'm going to
go and try and re-establish my connection with my
audience there and also
tell people that haven't heard from me since 1988 i've
made a few records
since then. So you've missed out on a few.
MP: When you go there. Do you get singled out by
singled me out a couple of weeks ago actually. I went to
Dallas. I'd only to America once in the last couple of
contrary to popular opinion I don't live there I live
here. I'd only been
out there once. I went to New York and that was fine.
Then a couple of
weeks ago they stopped me in Dallas airport. They spent
2 hours trying to
ascertain why my misdeameanor or whatever it was from
years ago had not
come off my passport yet. I was there for 2 hours. I
hate to think what
they think the danger..well I know what they think the
danger to the
community is (laughs) but I can't see that that's very
important when you
think that they're really trying to stop terrorists
MP: You mentioned the album there and it's been a while
since you wrote a
solo album. Ten years in fact?
George: Well it's
MP: Eight. Well it's a long time. Why did it take this
George: Well I
hate to harp on about my mothers death but I have to try
explain to people why it took such a long time. When
people last saw me on
this show I think I was pretty on form but what I didn't
realise at the
time was that the whole experience of that six months
supposed ordeal was
really a fantastic distraction from the fact that
actually I hadn't really
greived for my mum. I think once that whole episode was
over, and really
this show marked the end of that, it was a full stop for
me in some ways.
Once that was done and after all that positive reception
I just plummetted
and really lost a grip on my spirituality which in turn
stopped my writing.
MP: What does that mean?
never been someone that needed organised religion but
always had very deep feelings of beleif in a greater
power. At the very
least at the wonder of nature in comparison to the way
we play with it. I
genuinely for once in my life didn't know what was
happening. I couldn't
make music and I felt I because of 2 bereavements in a
vulnerable to more loss and I was just angry.
MP: What changed that over to writing the album? It's a
very good album.
Some wonderfull songs on it. Back to top form
George: I don't
know what changed it really. Maybe it was just a matter
MP: One other question I wanted to ask you about that
incident in America.
At that time I remember when I talked to you I had a
corny amatuer shrink
angle on it. Maybe it was so blatant the entire thing.
Maybe you wanted to
declare what you were?
George: Now I
look back and I think there were certain elements that
just undeniable you know? Apart from the fact it was
Beverly Hills. It was
probably the most glamourous toilet in the world. If
you're gonna do it do
it right and everything.
MP: So what you're saying is that in a sense
subconciously you colluded?
George: I think
that subconciously that was my way of coming out and
about showbiz or what? I think if it hadn't happened I
heartbroken but I think my subconscious definately led
me into that situation.
MP: Going back to this business of songwriting. You
mentioned there the
block that you had. I read that you started songwriting
and started an
interest in music as a young child because of an
happened was I was about eight years old and I was
lunch with about a thousand other children as you do. I
tripped at the top
of the stairs and hit the bottom of the stairs, slid
along this floor. I
don't know if you remember from old school days but
there was those huge
radiators that stuck out? I slid along the floor and hit
this radiator and
cracked my head open. There are two things I remember
about waking up. One
was that all the kids were gone you know? I'm lying
there in a pool of
blood and everyone's gone off to lunch apart from this
one girl. I had
these two girls that used to fight over me at 7. I'm not
going to name the
plainer of the two girls...she wasn't plain but there
was one real corker.
They used to fight over me and the one that was a more
homely type of girl
was there when I woke up. I was bleeding really badly
and this girl was
crying next to me. Strange thing was about two weeks
later I turned up at
home with a violin. I really wish I'd picked a different
that was the first one that they passed around. So I
spent seven years, i'd
decided after two weeks that this was not the instrument
for me and my
parents decided you've started so you'll finish, and so
I played it for
seven years. Very badly i'd imagine.
MP: But before there'd been no interest in music??
been no interest in music. I'd been obsessed with bugs,
insects and also I was ahead of average at both English
and Maths and what
happened was that within six months I had no interest in
the whole nature
thing. I was obsessed with music and couldn't do maths.
MP: Amazing isn't it?
couldn't do maths and I've never regained my grip on
never told my accountants that.
MP: Speaking of your accountants what's this I hear that
not going to sell any more records? That you're going to
let people on the
internet free download because you say you don't need
the money. How much
money do you have to have before you don't need any
George: Well my
point is that i'm not a socialist by any means. I don't
beleive in the ultimate goals of socialism but at the
end of the day I kind
of approve of capitilism. If you were going to provide
it as a model that
you were trying to sell to a generation of people it
would have a ceiling
on it wouldn't it? It would have a ceiling somewhere so
that the money
didn't just shoot from the bottom of society straight to
the top the way it
does now. Now I think it's getting out of control and
the whole of life is
out of balance because of it.
MP: So you put a salary cap on yourself?
George: I do feel
I've always been paid too much money. That's the truth.
think pop stars, film stars...
Footballers now joined the list. Actually footballers
have been way
ahead of us guys for a long time.
MP: It's interesting. So you put a voluntary salary cap
George: I just
think I truly believe in higher taxation for the rich
MP: Do you?
always beleived that.
MP: So you wouldn't scream if they put sixty pence in
the pound tax? You'd
still live here would you?
George: I'd still
MP: Would you?
understand that my politics is not necessarilly
goes with having the kind of money that I have. My way
of trying to say
thankyou to people for the positive..I mean I've had
twenty two years of
positive feedback from the public. I love my country and
I love my audience
and I really repect my audience. The trouble is I don't
feel like I can
feel my audience through the media that we now have.
MP: So that's a way of contacting them directly then?
George: Yeah. I
can contact them directly. I can say look you know what?
You've made me a rich man. You can stop paying me money.
I would like to
have a site that people, instead of paying me, they
actually donate some money.
MP: Make a donation. That's a really nice idea.
George: It would
be really nice. It keeps the whole thing very positive
it's some kind of antidote too, as someone who thinks
what they do is a
very positive thing, it's an antidote to all this
negativity that is just
flying at you as a famous, wealthy person.
MP: You say you're not a socialist but of course it's
well documented that
you've met Mr Blair. Indeed you had dinner with Mr
that got to do with socialism (audience laughs) You
into that one.
MP: He of course would claim that the mutual attraction
there was as one
Rock n' Roller to another?
before the first election I was invited to the big party
with the blokes from Oasis and all that stuff and I
thought no way I'm
doing that. You know, rule Brittania and cool Brittania
and all that
b.ollocks? (audience laughs). So, I wasn't prepared to
do that. If I was
going to be one of his supporters it had to be a private
thing. Anyway, so
I met up with him. At the end of the evening as I was
about to leave Cheri
said to Tony..and I have to say I really enjoyed the
family, charming man. Don't laugh it's true. Cheri said
to me 'oh you've
got to have Tony show you his guitar.' I thought 'oh
please don't show me
your guitar I was just about to vote for you, you're
throwing away a vote.'
Sure enough they opened the little downstairs toilet and
there was a little
guitar like one of the ones you buy a fourteen year old
really and a little
amplifier. I don't know if he plays it on the bog? I've
no idea? But the
fact is he showed me this little guitar and my immediate
thought as someone
who's always wanted to be in pop music was that means
there's some little
part of you that wanted to be up there doing what i'm
doing and that means
that there's something similar about our ego's and my
ego is pretty out of
control but it doesn't really matter.
MP: Let's go back to the record itself because part of
the record you made
on John Lennon's piano of course which you bought?
George: The title
track Patience was written on that piano simply because
really truly believe that as history progresses 'Imagine'
will be seen as
the kind of centrepiece of the 'peace love and
It's where it was written. It's the big white one in the
everybody wants to see and you turn up and see this
thing that cost me a
million and a half pounds and it kind of looks like it's
underfunded school in Hackney. It's got the original fag
burns on the
sides, you see him leaving his fags there. There was a
film called 'Gimme
Some Truth' during the making of 'Imagine' and you see
him writing the song
and he sang, just playing it to Yoko.
MP: Is it inspirational to you then in that sense?
George: It was.
What I did was once I knew the title of the album in my
head I knew I was going to write this little song on the
piano last. I knew
it had to be simple and I knew I wanted to write it on
that piano. So I
wrote it on that piano and I was going to play it on the
album but i'm a
bit crap. You know? With real piano 'live' i'm a bit
crap. So I decided to
have somebody else play it. So I don't play the piano
but I wote it on that
MP: That's lovely. That's very nice. But you're not
going to sing that
tonight you're going to sing a couple of numbers and the
first number is
MP: Amazing. It's a good song it really is.
George. Thank you.
Thank you very much.
MP: You must be very happy with it?
George: Well it's
kind of unusual to hear me singing about love really in
the context of 'oh i'm in love.' Normally it's 'oh i'm
so miserable love
me, love me'. This song is really ...I can't beleive how
fantastic and life
changing this relationship is.
George: That's a
weird one for me. We're going to see if I can manage it
MP: That's a lovely song. George Michael that's your
band over there.
(walks off to perform Amazing)
was broadcasted on BBC TV 2 days later.