Shirlie Holliman

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Shirlie Holliman
Shirlie at the Liverpool Echo Arena 25 June 2011 (cropped).jpg
Shirlie Holliman performing at the Liverpool Echo Arena on 25 June 2011.
Background information
Born (1962-04-18) 18 April 1962 (age 56)
Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Years active1981–1991
LabelsInnervision Records
Epic Records
Columbia Records (US & Canada)
Associated actsWham!, Pepsi & Shirlie

Shirlie Holliman (born 18 April 1962) is an English former pop singer, who found fame in the 1980s with Wham! and as part of the duo Pepsi & Shirlie.

Early years[edit]

Shirlie Holliman was one of five children born and raised on a council estate in Bushey, near Watford. Hertfordshire,[1] Holliman intended to train as a horse riding instructor,[2] 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.[1]

Music career[edit]

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.[1] After Lee left to join The Style Council and later marry its lead singer Paul Weller, she was replaced by "Pepsi" DeMacque, and this duo performed on all the Wham! songs and concerts.[2] 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.[2]

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,[2] 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.[2] The duo also re-united to perform for the 'Here and Now 10th Anniversary tour' which kicked off on 24 June 2011.[3]

On November 29, 2002, Holliman was a back-up vocalist in the Concert for George, a concert celebrating the music of the late George Harrison.

Personal life[edit]

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 friend George Michael,[1][2] 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).[4] Holliman and daughter Harley had brief roles together in the Spice Girls video Mama.[2]

After Holliman took time out from work to care for her husband through his illness with brain tumours,[1] she was declared bankrupt in September 1996,[1] 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.

Pepsi and Shirlie at the Liverpool Echo Arena, 2011


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Shirlie Kemp Interview". Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview with Shirlie Holliman". Retrieved 2008-11-15.
  3. ^ "Here and Now: The very best of the 80s". Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  4. ^ Shirlie Holliman on IMDb [unreliable source?]