Careless Whisper – Wham!

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………on February 16th of 1985 Wham reaches #1 on Billboard with “Careless Whisper”. Contrary to popular belief, this song was not based on an actual event in George Michael’s high school dating life, but rather he thought the whole thing up while boarding a bus. It was a fictitious story, but the tune was great and the song was a hit. George Michael claimed that he got more compliments on his writing of the sax solo at the beginning of the song than on anything else he had ever written. The saxophone part was played by Steve Gregory, a session player based in London. As verified by Chris Porter, who was the engineer on the session, 10 different sax players tried to do the solo before Gregory came up with the sound Michael was looking for. One of the challenges was getting so many notes in one breath. This was accomplished when Porter slowed down the tape when he recorded Gregory’s solo. When he played the tape back at normal speed, Michael approved it. The result is one of the most famous sax solos in popular music. Most Wham! songs were written solo by George Michael, but this one was also credited to Andrew Ridgeley, the other half of Wham!. The song was released on the duo’s second album, Make It Big, but was also released as a George Michael solo single – credited in the US to “Wham featuring George Michael.” Rumors at the time were that Wham! was breaking up, but Michael refuted that by saying he wanted a solo career to release soul records while keeping his pop output with the duo. Wham! continued to tour and released another album in 1986, while Michael’s solo career took off. “Careless Whisper” was a massive hit, establishing Michael as a solo star but also providing a nice payday for Ridgeley, who got half of the songwriting credit. This was Epic Records first million-selling single and it was George Michael’s biggest-selling single in the UK, either as a solo artist or with Wham!, selling 1,365,995 copies. In America, “Careless Whisper” was certified platinum, meaning it sold over 2 million copies. The song also reached #1 in the UK.