Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley reveals AIDS death fears for George Michael
George Michael’s Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley has revealed he was terrified when his friend came out as gay, as he feared he would die as a result of AIDS.
In his new book, Wham!: George & Me, Ridgeley recalled the moment George Michael confided in him about his sexuality after they finished filming their ‘Club Tropicana’ video at Pike’s Hotel, Ibiza in 1983.
In an excerpt seen by The Sun, Ridgley wrote: “When I walked across the hallway to George’s room, [backing singer] Shirlie was already there, perched on a large sofa in the suite. George was still in bed. He smiled as I came in.
“The mood in the room was so relaxed and familiar, yet what George was about to reveal was clearly a big deal for him.”
George Michael then told his bandmates: “I didn’t know whether to tell you this, but I’m going to. I’m gay.”
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Ridgely suddenly realised why his friend had never had a serious girlfriend. He made it clear that he wasn’t bothered about his sexuality and only wanted him to be happy.
He said that George Michael was concerned that coming out publicly would end his dreams of competing with major stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna – but Ridgeley had other fears.
“A terrible additional worry was the emergence of AIDS,” he said. “I know I wasn’t the only friend of George’s who worried about him during that uncertain, frightening period.”
In 1983 the world was still in the midst of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, known then as “the gay plague”. Countless gay men were being struck down by the virus and there was a strong stigma surrounding the disease.
This was still ongoing in 1998, when George Michael was forced to reveal his sexuality to the world after being arrested for soliciting sex in a Beverly Hills public toilet.
But the singer never contracted the disease, instead passing away in December 2016 from heart and liver problems.
In his book, Ridgeley also revealed that he still has “a number of questions” over his friend’s death and feels there hasn’t been “any real closure”.