By guest blogger Mike Brown
Since he shot to fame as one of the biggest and best stars of the 80s and possibly one of the most successful music careers in history),George Michael has rarely been out of the public eye, however, unfortunately over the last decade or so, it has been mainly for the wrong reasons. His latest gracing of the tabloid couldn’t have come at a worse time for him. With his seminal album, “Faith,” due to be re-released on September 27th, today’s news that George Michael is to spend the next eight weeks in prison was at best inconvenient and at worst a downright catastrophe.
While the inevitable PR surrounding his impending stay in Pentonville Prison, North London, will undoubtedly have people flocking to their local record store in droves, it will sadly be for the wrong reasons. Similar reasons no doubt that had people flocking to buy Michael Jackson’s later recordings, while he was awaiting trial for child sex allegations.
The hordes of fans who awaited George Michael as he arrived at the court was a testament to his enduring popularity, and whilst these gathered fans didn’t get the pleasure of releasing a white dove upon hearing the innocent verdict (like Michael Jacksons legion at his California trial,) their very presence had a great feeling of warmth and solidarity.
George Michael has always been candid about his turbulent relationship with the law. In perhaps his most famous adventure in the courts, when he was caught engaging in lewd and lascivious acts in a Beverly Hills public toilet. In fact, his reaction to this was full of the outright flamboyance that he built his career on, with the hit single, “Outside,” being inspired by the events.
In the later years of this decade, Michael had several well-publicized run-ins with the law for entirely other reasons. In 2006, on two separate occasions, once where he was found slumped at the steering wheel of his car, in a car park where he had previously damaged three of the surrounding vehicles trying to reverse his car, and once at a busy intersection. He was charged with dangerous driving, and also for being caught in possession of a class C drug.
In 2007, as a result of these events, he was ordered to take on 100 hours of community service and was banned from driving for two years.
The next year, clearly having not learned his lesson, or kept his promise to his fans that he was going to be on his best behavior, he was caught in another public toilet, this time on Hampstead Heath in North London. He was caught in possession of crack cocaine and cannabis.
In the latest incident, he crashed his Range Rover into the side of a photo shop. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and being in possession of cannabis.
After many instances of leniency in his case, the judge really had no choice but to sentence George Michael to prison time, calling his dependency on illegal substances a great risk to both himself and other members of the public. The judge took Michael’s recent undertaking of treatment for addiction and depression, as well as his guilty plea into account but suggested that in view of his previous convictions, there was really no doubt about a prison sentence being passed.
George Michael is not the first 80s pop superstar to fall foul of the law in the twilight years of their careers (in 2008, Boy George was sentenced to 15 months in jail for the unlawful imprisonment of a male escort in his studio flat,) and he almost certainly won’t be the last. Let’s hope that George can at least move forward with some dignity and gain some positive press out of a complete rejuvenation and rebirth, rather than the continuing negative press and juvenile jokes that can haunt celebrities for the duration of their stay in the spotlight.
The press and tabloid media simply love stories like this, the wicker men they build, burning so gloriously and in full view of their cameras. It’s sad that it has to end this way, but let’s hope it isn’t the end of the George Michael story. Let’s hope we have a new album from this musical genius in the near future. Until then, satisfy yourself with some of the music highlights of the latter half of his career. These symbolize his relevance in today’s media world a lot more than his run-ins with the law.
NOTE: Radio Creme Brulee (www.radiocremebrulee.com) might be one of the few (if not the only station) American radio stations that regularly plays material from George Michael’s post-80s career. If you are a George Michael fan, do not miss out on his musical genius and tune on to our station NOW!