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When Pop Group Wham! Travelled to New York City

20 October 2019

For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley, one half of one of the most famous bands in the world tells the inside story of Wham!, his lifelong friendship with George Michael, and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early eighties.


Book: Wham! George & Me

In 1975 Andrew took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off, and their boyhood escapades at Bushy Meads School built a bond that was never broken. The duo found themselves riding an astonishing roller coaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records, they were treated like gods, but they stayed true to their friendship and ultimately to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end. And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

Andrew’s memoir covers in wonderful detail those years, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good, and the bad. The book also mentions their first trip to New York City in the early eighties when CBS invited them over to the Big Apple. Andrew recalls them missing their flight from the UK, and arriving in New York twenty-four hours late. They had been booked into the Mayflower Hotel, which was an old 1920s building located at the corner of West 61st Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, opposite Central Park. The hotel was featured in the 1994 film, “Wolf” starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer. In 2004 the hotel was demolished after a 74-year run to make way for the ultra-swank condo 15 Central Park West.


Mayflower Hotel before it was demolished in 2004

It was halfway through their stay when George and Andrew were asked to leave the Mayflower by the hotel staff as their record label ‘Innervision’ had not paid the bill. After a frantic telephone call to CBS in New York, the pair was eventually saved from eviction.

During their stay, the boys toured many of the city’s best nightclubs as they were curious to experience the Manhattan dance scene. What they discovered were venues that were no more than vast spaces, old warehouses or commercial buildings, of which most of them were stark and uncomfortable. Prior to the trip, Andrew had injured his leg whilst playing football, and so had to walk everywhere on crutches, and as jetlag had worn him down, spent one night sleeping next to a gigantic speaker whilst George befriended a group of young New Yorkers, who would lead them both into the sketchy part of the city, with George ignoring Andrew’s concerns. Though the night eventually played out without incident, it was more than could be said for Francois Kevorkian’s remix of their record that was sent to them after they returned to London. Both Andrew and George hated it as it was nothing like that had hoped for. If their first trip to America had taught Wham! Anything, it was that life of a pop star could be very curious indeed.

The book is available from Amazon and other booksellers.





 


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