George Michael's final interview to be broadcast on BBC Radio 2
The Radio 2 listeners continue to love and remember George Michael and his music, and I'm glad that they will be able to hear his final, very special interview on the station.Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2
George Michael: The Red Line will be broadcast for the first time on BBC Radio 2 - split across two 60 minute programmes on Wednesday 1 and Wednesday 8 November at 10pm.
George gives Kirsty a frank first-hand account of the incredible success and devastating loss he faced across both his life and career.
Just before Christmas 2016, Kirsty was asked to interview George for a film he was producing about his life and career. The intention was to use elements of their discussion as part of the soundtrack. The film would become Freedom, his final work.
The interview took place at George’s home with Kirsty intending to cover only few specific areas. The conversation ran on for over two hours and subsequently led to a frank and informal discussion about George’s life and career.
Although it had never been the intention to broadcast their conversation in its entirety, following George’s untimely death only a few weeks later, it began to feel like something that should happen. In fact, as they parted, George said to Kirsty: "You should turn this into a radio programme."
George Michael: The Red Line is his final interview, told in almost all it’s entirety with many of the personal asides left as they were.
Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 says: "The Radio 2 listeners continue to love and remember George Michael and his music, and I'm glad that they will be able to hear his final, very special interview on the station."
Highlights from the programmes include:
George remembering the beginning of his career and teaming up with his school friend, Andrew Ridgley to form Wham!: “What a wonderful joy ride for two 18 year olds… what an amazing adventure… Wham! itself was an absolute joy. It was joyous as it sounded you know.”
How his decision to pursue a solo career almost felt pre-destined for him: “There’s always been this red line, I see it like a red line, which goes through everything. Like a staircase to whatever you’re about to do next. And I could feel that at the final concert. I already had one foot in my solo career during Wham! the final.”
On putting music before his personal life: “I had a feeling that I couldn’t have both. I felt that I couldn’t come out and, and live a full gay life and still have my devotion to what I did.”
Becoming wary of using his appearance to promote his music: “The real crux of what happened between Faith and Listen Without Prejudice. A young man who was adored by millions but couldn’t work out why, said: 'If I take away the image, if I take away this face, I’ll see whether they still love me'.”
Meeting Anselmo and entering into his first long-term relationship: “I was happier than I’d ever been in my entire life. Fame, money… everything else just kind of, paled by comparison to finally at 27 years old, waking up in bed with someone who loves you.”
How he felt after losing his court case against Sony Music: "I feel I took three years out of my career, I spent 7 million dollars and I got nothing for artists. Nothing. And then 10 years later it’s a different generation… that never looks at what they’re doing to their fellow man you know. Let alone fellow artists.”
His performance of Somebody to Love which was dedicated to his partner Anselmo (who had at that point been diagnosed with HIV) at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992: “I went for five days to rehearse. Everyone else went for an afternoon, I went for five days because it had to be perfect. And I think it’s probably my most famous performance… It’s not an accident that the performance probably most well known in my career was sung to my lover who was dying.”
Going back to the studio after Anselmo’s death and making his third solo studio album, Older: “Older’ is my greatest moment, in my opinion… I don’t ever want to be that inspired again.
“I wrote Older within about I suppose 8-10 months. I think I wrote the best, most healing piece of music that I’ve ever written in my life with that album.”
His optimism towards the future of his recording career: “Even when I’ve lost control, even when I’ve really hit rock bottom, I believe, that the red line is still there. And that this period of down time will result in something spectacular.”
George Michael: The Red Line will be broadcast for the first time on BBC Radio 2 on Wednesday 1 and Wednesday 8 of November at 10pm. The programme was produced by TBI Media, and executive produced by David Austin.
Pictured: George Michael and Kirsty Young in 2007