|Birth name||Andrew John Ridgeley|
26 January 1963 |
Windlesham, Surrey, England
Ridgeley was born in Windlesham, Surrey, England. His parents are Jennifer and Albert Ridgeley; his mother is English and his father is of Italian and Egyptian descent. Ridgeley grew up in Bushey, Hertfordshire, and attended Bushey Meads School. His mother was a schoolteacher at Bushey Heath Primary School and his father worked for Canon. When George Michael was enrolled at the school, Ridgeley volunteered to take him under his wing.
After years of playing in various music groups, the most notable being the Executive, Michael and Ridgeley formed Wham! They then approached various record labels with a homemade tape (which took 10 minutes to record in Ridgeley's living room) and signed with Innervision Records. According to I'm Coming to Take You to Lunch, a book written by Wham's manager, Simon Napier-Bell, the band left Innervision after the first album and signed with CBS.
Wham! enjoyed worldwide success from 1982 to 1986, selling more than 28 million records worldwide. Wham! made their US debut appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and became the only British act in the 1980s to have three No. 1 singles in both the UK and the US.
Simon Napier-Bell has admitted that he fabricated a story in 1984 that Ridgeley had been hit on the nose by somebody in a nightclub in order to get publicity for Wham! in British tabloid newspapers. After days of tabloid headlines, it was later revealed that the bandages on Ridgeley's face were because he had cosmetic surgery on his nose.
Wham! had two UK No. 1 singles in 1984 and were competing that year with pop rivals Duran Duran to be Britain's biggest pop act. Napier-Bell devised a publicity scheme that he believed would turn Wham! into major international stars. In April 1985, he took Wham! to China for a 10-day visit. This gained huge worldwide media attention when Wham! became the first Western pop group to play in China, in front of 15,000 people at the Worker's Gymnasium in Beijing. In 1985, Ridgeley performed at the Live Aid charity concert next to backing singers like Kiki Dee while his bandmate Michael performed with Elton John.
In 1986, "The Edge of Heaven" became Wham!'s fourth and final UK No. 1 single. With Michael keen to move into a more adult market, Wham! broke up after a farewell concert entitled "The Final" in front of 72,000 people at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 28 June 1986.
On 27 January 1991, Ridgeley joined Michael on stage for a few songs at the encore of his performance at the Rock in Rio event at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Since 1991, Ridgeley has generally shunned the limelight, but he did agree to give an interview on camera for a 2005 documentary, A Different Story, about the life of George Michael. Ridgeley also appeared as a studio guest on the first series of the BBC 2 programme Fantasy Football League in 1994.
In 2005, Ridgeley and Michael made plans to reunite as Wham! for Live 8, but Ridgeley reportedly pulled out at the last minute. In 2012, Michael dismissed rumours that he and Ridgeley were set for a Wham! reunion to mark the 30th anniversary of the group's first record. Michael said that there was no truth in speculation the group would reform for a one-off concert.
Since 1982, he has reportedly amassed £10 million from sales and royalties of records. Although the single "Careless Whisper" was issued as a Michael solo piece, it was credited as being co-written by Ridgeley. It has sold six million copies worldwide and, to date, is the 34th best-selling single of all time in the United Kingdom, having sold over 1.3 million copies. Ridgeley still benefits financially from receiving thousands of pounds a year from his share of "Careless Whisper" royalties alone.
Shortly after the breakup of Wham!, Ridgeley moved to Monaco, and tried his hand at Formula Three motor racing. Meeting with little success, Ridgeley moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a career in acting. He returned to Britain permanently in 1990.
CBS Records (later Sony Music), having taken up the option on Wham!'s contract that specified solo albums from Michael and Ridgeley, released a guitar and drum driven solo recording from Ridgeley, Son of Albert, in 1990. His brother Paul, an occasional percussionist for Bananarama, played drums on the album. Singles included "Shake" and "Red Dress".
"Shake", which was the first single from his solo album, had only moderate success, reaching No. 16 on the Australian charts and No. 58 in the UK charts. "Shake" was the 81st highest-selling single of 1990 in Australia. "Red Dress" only charted in Australia, where it peaked outside the top 100.
Ridgeley's record company, CBS, passed up the option of a second album from him after unsuccessful sales of the album Son of Albert, which was panned by critics and failed to make the top 75 in the UK. Son of Albert was one of the worst received albums of 1990, achieving only half a star in a savage Rolling Stone magazine review. Ridgeley later said: "It was disappointing and depressing to receive quite such a beating over that album."
Ridgeley lives near Wadebridge, Cornwall, England, in a restored 15th-century farm property with his partner Keren Woodward, a member of the group Bananarama. The couple parted ways in November 2017.
|1990||"Shake"||58||16||48||77||Son of Albert|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
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