Shirlie Holliman on the left as Pepsi & Shirlie (2011).
18 April 1962 |
Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, England
|Years active||1981–91, 2000,|
Columbia Records (US & Canada)
|Associated acts||Wham!, Pepsi & Shirlie|
Shirlie Holliman was one of five children born and raised on a council estate in Bushey, near Watford. Hertfordshire, Holliman intended to train as a horse riding instructor, but after she developed hay fever at age 18 and with nothing else to do, her then boyfriend Andrew Ridgeley suggested she come and dance while he and his friend George Michael's band played a local gig.
Holliman was never a band member of what became Wham!, but like her friend Dee C. Lee, was paid on a per performance basis as a backing singer, and continued to live with her parents. After Lee left to marry Paul Weller, she was replaced by "Pepsi" DeMacque, and this duo performed on all the Wham! songs and concerts. As George Michael desired to create music targeted to a more sophisticated audience than Wham!'s primarily teenage fan base, the announcement of Wham!'s break-up was made in the spring of 1986, with a grand finale concert at Wembley Stadium on 28 June 1986, called The Final.
During their Wham! career, Holliman and DeMacque decided to form their own act, named Pepsi & Shirlie. Created immediately after the Wembley concert with an upbeat and more pop genre sound, they had two UK Top Ten hits: "Heartache", which was produced by Phil Fearon and Tambi Fernando, reaching #2 in the UK Singles Chart behind the #1 hit of George Michael and Aretha Franklin's I knew you were waiting, and "Goodbye Stranger", produced by Tambi Fernando and Pete Hammond, which reached #9.
The duo with DeMacque went on hiatus in 1989, but briefly returned in 2000 to record backing vocals on the UK number one Geri Halliwell hit Bag It Up. The duo also re-united to perform for the 'Here and Now 10th Anniversary tour' which kicked off on 24 June 2011.
Holliman married Spandau Ballet bassist and singer Martin Kemp, and retired from steady performing after the birth of her daughter. Holliman had met Kemp through mutual friends in the theatre in 1980, and the pair married in St. Lucia in 1988. They went on to have two children: daughter Harley Moon Kemp (born August 1989), and son Roman Kemp (born January 1993). Holliman and daughter Harley had brief roles together in the Spice Girls video Mama.
After Holliman took time out from work to care for her husband through his illness with brain tumours, she was declared bankrupt in September 1996, and the family moved from Hampstead Heath to Muswell Hill to allow Kemp to recover. Holliman then went to work managing Aegean, a business associated with music and entertainment production.