This article originally appeared in Entertainment Weekly. George Michael may not have had a discography to rival his fellow peers like Madonna and Prince - he released only five studio albums as a solo artist; three with Wham! - but his influence on pop music is undeniable. He scored two Grammys, eight No.
Though they already had four monster hits and even a Top 20 single, "Megamix," in their native U.K., George Michael and Andrew Ridgely didn't make their United States breakthrough until this giddy, finger-snapping, jitterbugging chart-topper.
There weren't many major male pop stars who were openly gay back then. (Scarcely any are now. Elton John said he was bisexual in 1976, and officially stayed there for more than a decade. He could hold a pose.) Lots of men hinted. Lots of men messed around with masculinity, and not just the megastars.
George Michael was born in London, England, on June 25, 1963. The high school out formed the band Wham! Their first U.S. hit was "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." In 1986, he went solo. Over time he recorded edgier work, such as the hit "I Want Your Sex."
On Christmas Day, George Michael passed away at the young age of 53. And while he, like many music icons we lost this year, was undeniably taken from us too soon, we can take comfort in the enduring legacy that he has left behind.