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All Eyes

Tampabay.com - Reporting with a camera

All Eyes photo gallery: A tribute to pop star George Michael

26

December

From the Associated Press: George Michael shot to stardom at an early age in the teen duo WHAM! and moved smoothly into a solo career. It was a classic showbiz story — a lad named Georgios Panayiotou with strong Greek Cypriot roots takes the name George Michael and forms a band with Andrew Ridgeley that brings him wealth and worldwide fame.

Photos and videos from that era show Michael with long locks, piercing eyes and a show-stopping smile. He was made for MTV, which was emerging as a dominant force, and he had a powerful video presence, borrowing some of his dance moves from Elvis Presley and sometimes styling himself as a motorcycle rebel who would have made James Dean or Marlon Brando proud.

RELATED: RIP George Michael, MTV superstar whose songs, sexuality will endure

He seemed to be on top of the world when he graduated from WHAM! and started scoring his own hits, but later said he was struggling with his sexuality and remembers his late 20s as a very depressing period.

The AIDS crisis was hitting the gay community extremely hard at the time, and he lost one partner to the disease. He said it took him several years to recover.

"I had my very first relationship at 27 because I really had not actually come to terms with my sexuality until I was 24," he said. "I lost my partner to HIV then it took about three years to grieve; then after that I lost my mother. I felt almost like I was cursed."

He was unsettled and unhappy and, at the same time, became that rare artist who enjoys both chart success and tremendous respect from his peers. He sold well over 100 million albums, walked away from awards dinners weighed down with trophies, and recorded duets with the giants in his field.

But Michael, whose death from heart failure at 53 was announced Sunday, struggled in his later years, fighting health issues and substance abuse problems. His voice remained golden — at times it seemed there was almost no limit to his range — but his behavior in public became ever more erratic.

Despite his great talent, he never found a niche for himself as a senior statesman of the rock world. His fans stuck with him despite it all, and many expected one more comeback. People rooted for Michael, even as they felt he was slipping away, giving in to his torment.

 

[Last modified: Monday, December 26, 2016 10:13am]

    

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