|Birth name||Andrew John Ridgeley|
26 January 1963 |
Windlesham, Surrey, England
|Occupations||Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer|
Ridgeley was born in Windlesham, Surrey to Jennifer and Albert Ridgeley. His mother is British and his father is Franco-Egyptian. 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, Michael and Ridgeley formed Wham! They then approached various record labels with a homemade tape (which took ten 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 to CBS.
Wham! and after
Wham! went on to enjoy worldwide success between 1982 and 1986, selling more than 25 million records. Wham! made their U.S. debut appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and went on to become the only British act in the 1980s to secure three No. 1 singles in both the UK and US.
Simon Napier-Bell has admitted that he fabricated a story in 1984 that Ridgeley had been smashed on the nose by somebody in a nightclub in order to get publicity for Wham! on the front page of British tabloid newspapers. After days of tabloid headlines, it was later revealed that the bandages on Ridgeley's face were because he had plastic 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 which 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 1986, "The Edge of Heaven" became Wham!'s fourth and final UK No. 1 single. With George 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. Shortly afterwards, 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. 13 on the Australian charts and No. 58 in the UK charts. "Red Dress" did not make the charts at all.
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."
On 27 January 1991, Ridgeley joined George 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.
Since retiring from active music-making, Ridgeley has remained active in music-writing under various pseudonyms. Since 1982, he has reportedly amassed £10 million from sales and royalties of records. Although the single "Careless Whisper" was issued as a George 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 per annum from his share of "Careless Whisper" royalties alone.
George Michael alludes to Ridgeley in his songs "Freedom '90" ("Heaven knows we sure had some fun boy, What a kick just a buddy and me") and "Round Here" ("Andy says it's time to show them all - round here. Please Sir, we two have other plans... "). In the 2007 American film Music and Lyrics, Hugh Grant plays "Alex Fletcher" of '80s band Pop!, a thinly-disguised Ridgeley.
In 2005, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley made plans to reunite as "Wham!" for "Live 8", but Ridgeley pulled out at the last second. Later in 2012, George Michael dismissed rumours that Ridgeley and himself 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.
- Son of Albert (1990)
- "Shake" (1990)
- "Red Dress" (1990)
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- Andrew Ridgeley at the Internet Movie Database
- Article on how Ridgeley lives his life in 2007, also hints at a reunion with Michael at an announced concert
- Andrew Ridgeley at DidTheyDie