The definitive biography of George Michael, offering an expansive look at the troubled life of the legendary singer, songwriter, and pop superstar
George Michael was an extravagantly gifted, openhearted soul singer whose work was both pained and smolderingly erotic. He was a songwriter of true craft and substance, and his music swept the world, starting in the mid-1980s. His fabricated image—that of a hypermacho sex god—loomed large in the pop culture of his day. It also hid—for a time—the secret he fought against revealing: Michael was gay. Soon his obsession with fame would start to backfire. As one of the industry’s most privileged yet tortured men began to self-destruct, the press showed little sympathy. George Michael: A Life explores the compelling story of a superstar whose struggles, as well as his songs, continue to touch fans all over the world.
Acclaimed music biographer James Gavin traces Michael’s metamorphosis from the shy and awkward Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou into the swaggering, dominant half of the leading British pop duo of the 1980s Wham!; he then details Michael’s sensational solo career and its subsequent unraveling. With deep analysis of the creative process behind Michael’s albums, tours, and music videos, as well as interviews with hundreds of his friends and colleagues, George Michael: A Life is a probing, definitive portrait of a pop legend.
About the Author
James Gavin is a writer and music biographer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Time Out New York, and Vanity Fair. He is the author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, Is That All There Is?: The Strange Life of Peggy Lee, and Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne. He lives in New York City.
Gavin’s engrossing biography of the singer takes the measure of a gifted, tragic and infuriating man.
— New York Times
"A fascinating, heartbreaking bio."
— People Magazine
“James Gavin has delivered a stunning, empathic, and peerlessly knowledgeable biography of George Michael. Gavin’s attention to his subject’s artistry, his honest treatment of Michael’s struggles, his sharp-eyed understanding of the last days of record-company dominance, and his comprehension of the shifting tides of gay acceptance in our culture are sublime. The author of biographies of Chet Baker, Lena Horne, and Peggy Lee has, with this book, firmed up his place as one of our very best writers about music and life.”
— Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation
“James Gavin is a biographer of the highest order, with a gorgeous sense of narrative and insight galore. His George Michael: A Life is a backstage, all-access pass into a glittery world filled with dark corners and trap doors. It’s a thrilling, albeit cautionary tale of success, excess, and a remarkable performer who met his destiny head-on.”
— Bob Spitz, New York Times bestselling author of The Beatles: The Biography and Led Zeppelin: The Biography
“A compelling portrayal of one of the most enigmatic entertainers in music, a fascinating tale meticulously researched and written by James Gavin.”
— Steven Gaines, bestselling author of Simply Halston: The Untold Story and The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles
“Read without prejudice and be prepared to be rattled and moved. Only James Gavin could do justice to this story of mercurial creativity, sex, and self-destruction in the glittery, harrowing, ethereal heights of pop stardom.”
— David Hajdu, author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn and Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña
“George Michael: A Life is quite a life—one you won’t easily forget. James Gavin has written a thoroughly researched, engrossing, and illuminating portrait of a pop icon battling his own demons, the era’s raging homophobia, and the ever-changing musical scene. Gavin captures the highs and lows with great intelligence and sensitivity. It’s insightful and profoundly moving.”
— Patricia Morrisroe, author of Mapplethorpe: A Biography
“James Gavin is an ace biographer, and inGeorge Michael: A Life he tells the heartrending tale of a pop legend who couldn’t love himself but made the whole world feel good.”
— Danny Fields, manager, the Ramones
“George Michael’s burning ambition, incredible talent, and dark secrets are examined by James Gavin in this engrossing behind-the-scenes portrait.”
— Doug Herzog, former president of MTV Productions
“Though much has been written (and rewritten) about our fallen hero aka Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, this revealing (and often shocking) portrait by music biographer Gavin draws on scores of published media features and hundreds of interviews with friends, colleagues, and insiders. Exposing Michael's past battles with the media, his rampant sexual proclivities, and probing the later years as his personal life unraveled, this biography is moving, eye-opening, and essential, even for readers with just a casual interest in pop culture.”
— Bay Area Reporter
“Music biographer Gavin offers a probing, definitive portrait of the equally gifted and tortured artist, charting his meteoric rise in the ’80s through his public self-destruction and tragic death.”
— USA Today