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Wham!

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Bushey, England (1981 – 1986)

Wham! (often written WHAM!) was a pop band formed in 1981 from Bushey, England. They were briefly known in the United States as Wham! UK due to a naming conflict with another band.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley met at Bushey Meads School in Watford, England. At first, they performed in a short-lived rock and roll band called The Executive. They then changed their name and signed with Innervision Records. Soon after a legal victory over Innervision, the duo was signed to CBS, Columbia Records in the United States and Canada and Epic Records for the rest of the world.

Further information: Artist development deal
Michael took on the majority of roles and responsibilities within the band— composer, singer, producer, and occasional instrumentalist— but the contribution of Ridgeley as the group’s image specialist and spokesman was crucial to the band’s initial success. Ridgeley convinced a reluctant George that Wham! needed to change their image and sound frequently, from the leather-clad moody singers of “Bad Boys” and “Young Guns (Go For It!)” to the more fashionable pop superstars of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”

Still teenagers, they promoted themselves as hedonistic youngsters, proud to live a carefree life without work or commitment. This was reflected in their earliest singles. Such works as “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)” have been seen as sarcasm advocating the other point of view.

The first record to be released by the band was “Wham Rap!”. It was a double-A side with a Social Mix and Anti-social Mix. The record was banned for general release in the UK due to the profanity in the Anti-social Mix.

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