'I miss him dreadfully!' Pepsi and Shirlie star remembers George Michael his on 60th birthday

Pepsi always knew George Michael was going to be a star and would watch him in the wings when she supported him and Andrew Ridgeley on their Wham! tour in the 1980s.



Pepsi and Shirlie star remembers George Michael
Pepsi and Shirlie star remembers George Michael

Pepsi always knew George Michael was going to be a star.

The 64-year-old singer - whose real name is Helen DeMacque - shot to fame alongside Shirlie Holliman as part of the pop duo who supported the late 'Careless Whisper' superstar and his on-stage partner Andrew Ridgeley during his Wham! heyday in the 1980s and on what would have been George's 60th birthday on Friday (23.06.23), she recalled that she would stand in the wings knowing that he was going to break out as a star in his own right.

Speaking on UK TV show 'This Morning' ahead of the release of a Netflix documentary about the duo, Pepsi said: "Being on tour, we got to see him do 'Careless Whisper' and Shirlie and I would grab a Mars Bar for energy.

"We'd be standing there at the side of the stage and he'd change and he'd be on the stage signing and you would hear a pin drop. We'd look at each other and go 'He's a star!' Everybody knew that he was gonna go on to be George Michael as you know him.

"And the thing you discover in the documentary is where Andrew gets his due because no-one really knew what part he played but he played a major part in writing some of the songs, in being George's partner on stage and having created the name Wham!"

"I miss George dreadfully, I do."

George - who passed away on Christmas Day 2016 at the age of 53 - went on to sell more than 100 million records in his own right and Pepsi recalled that she "warbled" her way through her audition for the job alongside Shirlie and was offered the gig on the spot.

She added: "I got this phone call because I was like a budding backing singer back in the day just trying to get into the industry, got this tape, it wasn't Wham!, and I rocked up to the studio and saw Simon Napier-Bell, who was their manager at the time.

"I went in and did a bit of adlibbing, still had my handbag on my shoulder and I just started to warble and pretended I was Chaka Khan. Simon said 'Would you like to go on tour with a band called 'Wham?' and I said 'What, do you mean those white boys that rap?'

"I was like 'Yeah, okay then, I'll join the band!' and that was it!"

"Shirlie and I were well placed. We had the birds eye view as things happened and as we went on to our own career we learned so much from just watching those boys in front of us.

"They chose our outfits, George was very clear on that because they wanted us to be seen from the back of the auditorium and this is what you get to see in the documentary.

"You get to see the fact that they really thought about everything, they were having fun but they were very focused in what they were doing."