Greatest Hits Radio presenter Martin Kemp shares memories of his friend George Michael in an upcoming radio special called ‘George Michael: 5 Years On’ airing on Christmas Day. The former Spandau Ballet singer and actor is joined by a host of famous faces as they tell the story of one of Britain’s biggest pop icon, 5 years to the day we lost him.
Speaking in the specially recorded programme Martin shared details of George’s incredible generosity. He shares, “George absolutely loved Christmas. Christmas in the Kemp household didn’t start until December 14th when two giant hampers would be delivered through our door from Harrods. Two massive baskets full of wine and cheese and food and meats and everything you needed to have a great Christmas. This didn’t happen just once or twice. This happened for 30 years. It’s very weird today that we don’t get those hampers.”
“When he first became this global superstar, and all of a sudden had all of this money, he wanted to share it with his friends. I remember one birthday that he had, he took everybody on a DC-10 (plane). All of his friends, to Richard Branson’s Necker Island. And we spent a week there, twenty of us. Scuba diving together and building sandcastles together. I will never forget it. But he was like that, he was so generous. Not just with his money but also his time. He would listen to you if you had problems. He was just such a lovely man.”
Speaking about the first time he heard Wham! hit, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Martin shared “I remember clearly the first time I ever heard that. Shirlie and I had to drive round to his house because I left my jacket there the day before. When I knock on the door, he says to me, “Martin before you go anywhere, come upstairs I want to play you a new song.” We go up to his bedroom and on the tape recorder he plays the demo of ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’. I say all the things that are right that you should say like “This is brilliant, it’s going to be a great song. You’re going to do really well with it, it’s going to be a smash.” Then I say goodbye to him, get my jacket and I go. Sit next to Shirlie in the car and I said to her, “Shirl, he just played me the new song Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Listen I think it’s going to sink. I think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”
Thankfully Martin was proved wrong, as the song went on to become the band’s first UK and US number one hit, selling over 2million copies in the US alone. Martin said “Anyway what do I know, good job I’m not his manager!”
Martin also shared his memory of recording the star-studded Christmas song ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ “I remember clearly talking to George at Band Aid before we went in and recorded the vocals. He wasn’t very happy with the words. I think he was in Wham! mode at that time, and his head was full of happy pop songs. He didn’t like the words that Bob and Midge had written for the song. He thought they were too down. It was only later after we recorded it and listened to it that he really appreciated that. Listen, it takes a big man to accept it sometimes.”
Listen to ‘George Michael: 5 Years On’ hosted by Martin Kemp on Greatest Hits Radio on Christmas Day between 5-7pm.
Tune in earlier in the day to hear Gary Barlow’s Christmas Dreams between 9-10am on the station as he shared his ‘sleighlist’ of festive favourites. Also on the Christmas Day schedule is America’s Greatest Christmas Hits with Paul Gambaccini between 12-2pm and Pat Sharp’s Christmas House Party between 7-10pm.
You can listen to Greatest Hits Radio on FM, DAB digital radio, on your smart speaker, mobile device or online at greatesthitsradio.co.uk
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