Remembering George Michael

2016 was a terrible year; we lost a lot of famous people. It was terrible for me to hear the passings of David Bowie and Prince. They were part of the music I listened to during the 80’s. However on Christmas Day when I heard the passing of George Michael, that was just another punch to the heart. When I was young and use to visit my cousin’s place, they would either be playing a lot of George Michael or Thomson Twins on the vinyl record player. That’s when I heard songs by George like “Faith” “Father Figure”.

Later on my parents bought me my first Casio electronic keyboard. I was excited because it came with a book of musical sheets to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits. I never learned piano the way I wanted to. I would press the buttons for different sounds effects and makes beats and loops and record it to a tape cassette recorder. My friends would come over and rap over some samples we would make on the keyboard. That’s when they heard the demo track built into the keyboard. I didn’t know what the song was originally. My friend identified it instantly as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by WHAM! That’s how I found out George Michael was originally in the group WHAM! before he went solo.

Like many musicians, they change their styles to keep relevant to new sounds. In the 90’s with videos popping up on Muchmusic or MTV I saw George come back with Freedom and then collaborations with Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”. I then started to listen to a lot dance songs on The Electric Circus or Extendamix and that’s where George popped up again with “Outside” and “Fastlove”.

That’s what I trying to convey through this illustration, is capturing the phases that George Michael appeared in my taste for his music. I painted his young “Careless Whisper” phase with colors you’d see used in WHAM! videos, to the “Faith” sunglasses and demin look, and finally the cool blues, and greens from some of his dance infused videos like “Fastlove”. While doing this in Photoshop I used a flat circular brush, courtesy of Kyle Webster. The 3 subjects were all done in a greyscale base painting. Afterwards I applied and gradient mapping and overlaid a colour painted layer style courtesy of Stanley Lau. I’m very happy how this turned out. It’s a shame George faded from the spotlight, but he continued to great work for charities. I’m sure the fans will keep the memories and the music of George to carry on. This is my contribution.

RIP George
-JD