Singer George Michael and social justice

This video from Britain says about itself:

26 December 2016

Fans laid flowers and candles in front of the London home of singer George Michael who died on Christmas Day at his home in Oxfordshire.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Fans pay tribute to political pop star

Thursday 29th December 2016

FANS of George Michael continued to lay tributes outside his homes yesterday following the tragic death of the pop superstar, who has a proud history of supporting left-wing struggles.

Flowers have been left in front of the singer’s home in Highgate, north London, and at his house in the Oxfordshire village of Goring-on-Thames, where he was found dead on Christmas Day.

The singer, who was once a member of the Young Communist League, recorded anti-Iraq war singles and gave away concert tickets to NHS nurses.

During the miners’ strike, his group Wham! performed a benefit concert for the strikers at London’s Royal Festival Hall in September 1984, when the band was at the height of its fame.

In a statement, his publicist praised the “many, many kind words” said about him and the airplay given to his music, adding that family and close friends had been “touched beyond words by the incredible outpouring of love” from the singer’s fans.

The statement also said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death on Sunday, which was reportedly caused by heart failure.


3 thoughts on “Singer George Michael and social justice

  1. Pingback: Cultural icons who died in 2016 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Saturday 31st December 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    George Michael will be remembered not only for his voice but also for dedicating his life to fighting for gay rights and supportng a host of progressive causes, says STEVE SWEENEY

    BORN Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotu, the singer George Michael was a musical phenomenon, selling over 100 million records in a career that spanned over 30 years.

    He was a big part of my childhood. As kids, we used to visit my cousin every Sunday and me and my younger sister would look forward to it with excitement.

    My cousin Ben is slightly older than me and I thought his clothes and hairstyles — which seemed to change every week — were really cool and would often try to copy him.

    Each time we came to his house he had new records which we listened to in his bedroom. This was the mid-’80s and it was Wham! who were — and still are — his favourites.

    I can still recall me and my sister being sat down by our parents in the spring of 1986 as they used that solemn, serious voice usually reserved for when someone has died.

    They told us that we weren’t to mention Wham! when we went over as the band had split up and a distraught Ben hadn’t left his room for a week as he had been crying into his Wham! pillow.

    There were many tears shed then and even more when the devastating news of George’s untimely death broke late on Christmas Day.

    Some who are now lamenting his loss and even speaking about him as a national treasure include those who had hounded him throughout his career.

    But it was his status as a gay man and a fighter for gay rights that shaped George as he courageously stood up to a hostile, often homophobic tabloid press and was defiantly proud of his sexuality.

    It was well documented that George struggled with fame and the limelight. Since his death, news of his support for a number of causes has come to light, including donations and concert tickets for nurses and the NHS, support for HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust and his anonymous help at a homeless shelter.

    George will also be remembered by many for for his opposition to the Iraq war. His 2002 single Shoot the Dog was a stinging attack on George Bush and Tony Blair, questioning their special relationship with lines including: “See Tony dancing with Dubya, Don’t you wanna know why?”

    The animated video depicted Blair as a poodle and saw a cartoon George astride a phallic missile in the Blairs’ bedroom.

    He questioned Blair’s march to war, asking: “How can you represent us when you haven’t asked us what we think?” and accused the US government of being “gung-ho” bullies.

    And in a 2003 interview with the BBC, he criticised the media for its role in downplaying attacks on Gaza, urging Blair to try to understand things from the Arab world’s perspective.

    He said that “the worldwide perception right now is that America is going to attack Saddam Hussein for oil and that [then Israeli prime minister Ariel] Sharon is being left to his own business in Palestine — in Israel rather — and that those two things show an absolute double standard.”

    The Murdoch press launched into vile, homophobic attacks against the singer, vilifying him as a “poof” and a “pervert,” with the Sun running a headline announcing the death of his career following the release of Shoot the Dog.

    It was not the first time that George had supported progressive political causes and stood up for oppressed groups. In his younger days I am told that he was a member of the Young Communist League (YCL).

    While we cannot be 100 per cent sure if this is true it is almost certain that he would have come into contact with them as his father was a leading Akel activist based at the Cypriot Centre in Wood Green where he would most likely have participated in activities run jointly with the Communist Party.

    And he was a strong supporter of striking miners. Morning Star Fighting Fund organizer Ivan Beavis was a member of the Sertuc miners support committee when in 1984 he was asked to help organise a fundraising concert.

    At the time, Ken Livingstone had just been elected leader of the GLC, which was the owner of the Festival Hall.

    They agreed that Sertuc could have the venue free and fully staffed for five nights.

    The list of artists supporting the miners was impressive, with Van Morrison, Paul Weller and Steel Pulse among those who agreed to play through the week.

    But it was the appearance of Wham! who played on the Friday night at the height of their fame that will probably be the biggest surprise to many.

    It was George who insisted that they play, apparently to the consternation of their management team. It wouldn’t be the last time he would clash with authority but he was adamant they would perform — and they did.

    Ivan tells me of the security operation needed to deal with young Wham! fans hiding in toilets and air ducts, under tables and on the roof.

    The door was staffed by Yorkshire miners and prices capped at £5 a ticket, ensuring that touts weren’t able to cash in lest they face workers’ justice from the pits.

    The night was a great success, however when the group mimed to one of their songs, some in the audience began to mock them.

    Apparently George stopped everything and said: “If you have come here to laugh at me, you have come for the wrong reasons.”

    The applause was rapturous and Wham! went off to a standing ovation and huge thanks from NUM president Arthur Scargill and general secretary Peter Heathfield.

    The concerts raised around £100,000 for the strike fund. George was fantastically supportive of the miners and their families and signed every autograph, keeping the suits in their place as he did throughout his whole career.

    He spent years engaged in a bitter legal battle with his record company Sony in which he described the contract he was tied into as “professional slavery,” giving him limited control over his music and how it was to be marketed at a time when he was trying to cultivate his sound as a serious solo artist.

    Perhaps the most famous incident of George’s career was his 1998 arrest in a Beverly Hills public toilet for performing a “lewd act.”

    It was this that forced George to come out publicly as gay and saw the infamous Sun front page “Zip me up before you go go.”

    He was to hit back with the perfect riposte, his single, Outside, in which the video saw George dressed as an LA cop dancing in a public toilet which turns into a disco.

    He dedicated the rest of his life and career to fighting for gay rights and supporting a variety of progressive causes.

    Latterly he accused David Cameron of being “the most cowardly PM we’ve seen for decades” for what he perceived as the Tories’ defence of Rupert Murdoch.

    In a series of tweets in 2012 he blasted the Leveson inquiry as “bull-shit” and questioned why the rights of the royal family should be treated as more important “than those of Milly Dowler’s parents, or of any of the hundreds of people whose lives have been violated by the press?”

    The man who signed himself off as “The Singing Greek” was a fighter who stood on the side of ordinary people and the oppressed. But George will be remembered for his incredible voice which brought joy to so many people. And boy could he sing.

    For those who don’t believe me, just listen to his live version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face recorded at Earl’s Court in 2008. And of course he leaves us one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time.

    Farewell, George and thanks for the music.,-George-And-thanks-for-the-music#.WGg6rn2ff6g


  3. Pingback: New British anti-austerity song | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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