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Five minutes with Andrew Ridgeley

Andrew Ridgeley was one half of Wham! – the biggest UK pop duo during the eighties and George Michael’s closest friend. We ask the artist, whose talented song writing sold six million copies of Careless Whisper alone, how it all began…

Think back to the 80’s and I’ll defy anyone not to burst into a spontaneous rendition of a Wham! track. Both Andrew and George were icons of their
age, defining the spirit and pop culture of that creative generation.

Andrew grew up in Hertfordshire, and attended Bushey Meads School. His mother was a teacher at the primary school and when George enrolled, they became great friends. Sharing a love of music and a desire to perform, they formed a band and made a demo tape (in just 10 minutes!) in Andrew’s living room to send on to record companies with the hope of getting a record deal.

They were picked up by Innervision Records and Wham! went on to enjoy worldwide success from 1982 to 1986 selling more than 30 million records and being the first band to play in China placing Wham! firmly centre stage on a global scale.

Read our exclusive interview with the man himself…

When did you realise that music was your thing? 

When I was nine or 10 years old, I recall that music was something I found absorbing and fascinating.

Did you learn an instrument at school?

I was steered towards learning the recorder, with little success!

Was there one particular teacher or person who inspired you the most?

It wasn’t so much people, rather the manifestations of their creativity that I found inspiring.

When did you and George decide to form a band?  At around 14 years old, but it was put off until we’d sat our O-levels because George was under pressure from his family to concentrate on his academic prospects. So it was with no little persuasion and endless badgering from me, that I finally persuaded him to form our first band in 1979!

Why did you call yourselves Wham!?

We lifted the name, from the song Wham Rap!

What was your big career break?

Saturday Superstore October 1982.

Which of your songs means the most to you?

Careless Whisper.

As a co-writer of Careless Whisper what was the inspiration behind this song?

The chord sequence and signature saxophone melody, lent itself to a plaintive kind of lament.

What do you miss most about George?

The bondthat only childhood friends ever make.

What would you say is George’s legacy and what would be yours?

George’s legacy is and will always be his music.  Mine is a work in progress!

What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

Open your mind!

How much is talent and how much is luck?

I’d say it’s 50/50!

Current favourite artist?

Justin Hurwitz who wrote the oscar-winning score for LaLa Land.

What are your passions outside of music?

I enjoy writing verse.

Any mountains still to climb?

Still climbing the first one!

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