Wham!: The biggest revelations from pop group's Netflix documentary

The iconic group became megastars in the 1980s

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in Wham! (Netflix)
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in Wham! (Netflix)

Iconic 80s pop group Wham! are being examined in a new Netflix documentary film which explores the bands origins, rise to fame and eventual disbandment.

Told predominantly through archival footage and soundbites from late frontman George Michael and fellow founder Andrew Ridgeley, viewers are given a closer look at their inside story.

Wham! first formed in 1981, and they became worldwide sensations with hits like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Last Christmas, they were huge up until their disbandment in 1986 at which point Michael launched his solo career and became a global superstar.

Read more: WHAM! director confirms George Michael’s estate ‘supportive’ of film (Attitude, 2-min read)

Here are the biggest revelations that were made in the documentary:

George Michael wanted to come out to his family aged 19

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in Netflix documentary Wham! (Netflix)
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in Netflix documentary Wham!, where archival interviews shows Michael wanted to come out aged 19 (Netflix)

As well as telling the band's origins, the documentary also explores George Michael's sexuality and his struggles with being in the closet for many years.

The musician first identified as bisexual before later accepting he was gay, but he kept his sexual identity a secret until he was publicly outed in 1998 when he was arrested for "lewd behaviour" over relations he was having with a man in an LA public bathroom.

Read more: Andrew Ridgeley opens up about impact of George Michael's death: 'It leaves a void'

In the documentary it was explained that Michael came out to Ridgeley and fellow bandmate Shirlie Kemp at the age of 19, but he was keen to also come out to his family.

Michael reflected, "I said I was going to talk to my mum and dad and was persuaded, in no uncertain terms, that it really wasn't the best idea, but I don't think they were trying to protect of my career or their careers I think they were literally thinking of my dad.

Andrew Ridgeley in Netflix documentary Wham! (Netflix)
Andrew Ridgeley seen in a recording studio in Netflix documentary Wham!. (Netflix)

"Because when you're 19 that's as far as you think, you look at your parents and think don't tell your parents, your dad will hit the roof.'"

Ridgeley said of this: "We were 19-20 years old, our perspective was a lot narrower."

Michael added, "At that point in time I really did, I wanted to come out and then I lost my nerve completely" which eventually weighed heavily on his mind.

How Careless Whisper came to be

Netflix's Wham! documentary also examines the way in which many of the group's biggest hits were made, one of which is Careless Whisper.

Michael created the song alongside famed composer Jerry Wexler, who produced music for Aretha Franklin amongst other legends.

UNSPECIFIED - OCTOBER 01:  Photo of WHAM!  (Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns)
Wham! pictured in their early years as a band. (Getty Images)

In the documentary, Michael explains in archival footage that he was "s***ing himself" about the experience because he kept being reminded of how Franklin and Ray Charles had recorded in Muscle Shoals.

Despite the record producer's skills in the business the musician felt they didn't work well creatively and Careless Whisper lost a lot of its soul, Ridgeley said: "It had been eviscerated, it had lost all its character, its essence. It was average."

So Michael decided to re-record the whole song and do it how he had originally envisioned it. To do so he auditioned ten saxophone players until he found the perfect one, Steve Gregory, who helped bring to life the song's iconic intro.

This was only the second time Michael had produced a track "solely to his vision."

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go's unexpected origins

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in Netflix documentary Wham! (Netflix)
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in Netflix documentary Wham! which examines how they came to make songs like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Netflix)

Another song whose origins were explored was Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, which the band released in 1984 and was inspired by a note.

It was revealed that Ridgeley left a note to be woken up and had accidentally written "before" twice and felt worried it looked silly so he decided to double down on the mistake by adding "go" a second time at the end of the sentence, which inspired Michael to make their iconic hit.

Their split

When Wham! announced their disbandment back in 1986 the news came as a shock to fans, but the writing had been on the wall for the pair for quite some time.

Read more: Andrew Ridgeley on the Last Time He Saw Wham! Bandmate George Michael (People, 3-min read)

Ridgeley explained in the documentary that he'd felt as dependent on the band as Michael, who felt making music was an integral part of his life and he was keen to break free and focus on his solo ventures which was something his bandmate supported wholeheartedly.

Wham ! The Farewell Concert at Wembley Stadium, London on 28th June 1986. George Michael's real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou  Wham !,  (singer George Michael, and singer/guitarist Andrew Ridgeley) played their final concert as Wham !, although Andrew joined George as a guest on a few later George Michael solo shows.  Picture taken 28th June 1986
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley at Wham's farewell concert in June 1986 (Alamy)

The musician shared: "The turning point with Wham for me, was when I suddenly thought OMG I'm a massive star and I'm gay, the depression was just about that feeling of being boxed in."

Michael went on, "Because I had come out to Andrew he knew it was more than the band at stake, it was my sanity, and he didn't put any pressure on me to continue. He already knew why I was feeling trapped."

Ridgeley added: "We'd achieved everything we wanted as this superstar band and it got to a point where I didn't want anymore of it." Michael also shared that he understood why his bandmate felt frustrated with being seen as "the lucky guy that's coasted along with George Michael".

While the band played their last show together in June 1986 the pair remained close friends — appearing on stage together in 1991 for a gig in Rio — up until Michael's death on Christmas Day in 2016 aged 53.

Wham! is streaming on Netflix now. Watch a trailer below.