In 1985 Wham! became the first western Pop music band to play live in China

The 10 day visit took place during their “Make It Big” world tour

In 1985 Wham! became the first western Pop music band to play live in China

In 1985, the George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley Pop duo Wham!, were one of the best selling acts in the world. In a short period of time, the young duo already had scored a string of hit singles. On March 1985, while touring to promote their second album “Make It Big”, Wham”! made music history when they included China on the tour dates, a ground-breaking 10-day visit and the first by a Western pop group  (in 1981 French instrumentalist Jean-Michel Jarre opened the door for live western music in China when he held a series of concerts there). The China excursion was a publicity scheme devised by Simon Napier-Bell (one of their two managers—Jazz Summers being the other). It began on April 7, with a concert at the Peoples’ Gymnasium in Beijing in front of 12,000 people. They also played a concert in front of 5,000 in Canton. The two concerts were played without compensation. The two concerts were played without compensation and Wham!’s visit to China attracted huge media attention across the world. Napier-Bell later admitted that he used cunning tactics to sabotage the efforts of rock band Queen to be the first to play in China, by making two brochures for the Chinese authorities – one featuring Wham! fans as pleasant middle-class youngsters, and one portraying Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in typically flamboyant poses. The Chinese opted for Wham!. Their music video for the song “Freedom”, features footage exclusively from their 10 day visit to China, including concert footage. Despite their enormous success, in 1986 the duo splits, as George Michael wanted to start his solo career, more adult oriented and leave the bubblegum Teen Pop hits behind. They had a final release, “The Final”, which was a compilation including also new songs such as “The Edge Of Heaven”. Their final concert together as Wham! took place on a sold out Wembley Stadium in London during the Summer of 1986. Plans for a reunion in 2017 were sadly interrupted after George Michael’s death on Christmas day 2016 at age 53.

Watch the 1985 music video for “Freedom” by Wham! featuring footage exclusively from their Chinese 10 day visit

Watch more George Michael and Wham! related videos


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