The late British musician George Michael will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year.
It’s the first year Michael has been eligible. To be eligible, artists must have released their first record 25 years prior. Michael was the most-played artist on British radio between 1984-2004, according to the hall of fame organizers.
“George Michael possessed extraordinary talent as a songwriter, vocalist, and producer,” the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame said in announcing Michael as an inductee.
Michael gained fame as the frontman for the pop duo Wham! in the early 1980s. Michael along with Andrew Ridgeley released the hit songs “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and the holiday hit “Last Christmas.” The group disbanded in 1986 after Michael branched out with his songs “Careless Whisper” and “A Different Corner.”
He then went on to release his debut solo album Faith in 1987.
“With well-crafted hooks, mature lyrics, and funk and Motown influences, Faith was a Number One smash boasting four hit singles, including the title track and ‘Father Figure,’” organizers said. “Echoes can be heard in the impassioned vocals and personal lyrics of artists from Adele to Lady Gaga to Mary J. Blige.”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame called Michael’s album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 a “masterpiece” and that the album “alludes to Michael's struggle as a closeted gay man during the height of the AIDS epidemic.”
The organization added, "However, after coming out in 1998, Michael refused to shy away from honesty again, paving the way for a generation of proud LGBTQIA+ artists, from Sam Smith to Lil Nas X to Troye Sivan."
Michael died in 2016 of heart and liver disease. He was 53.
Other artists inducted this year that hadn’t been nominated before include Missy Elliot, Willie Nelson, and Sheryl Crow. Kate Bush, Rage Against the Machine, and The Spinners also made the cut, but they’ve been nominated in previous years.
Michael won the fan vote ahead of the official announcement of inductees with more than a million votes. Cyndi Lauper came in second with 928,113.