Wham! singers Pepsi and Shirley expose secrets and techniques from their friendship with George Michael

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The pair function in a brand new autobiographical movie known as George Michael Freedom Uncut, which is heading to cinemas on 22 June

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Martin and Shirlie Kemp pay tribute to George Michael

Shirlie Kemp is recalling the instant she confirmed George Michael her son Roman’s early YouTube movies.

What will have to were a easy proud mum second was once way more profound for George, who noticed in his godson one thing he had at all times longed for – the power to be unapologetically himself.

“Roman was just a teenager then and had started doing his own YouTube show,” says Shirlie.

“George said, ‘I’m so proud of him, he’s so confident.’ He was absolutely fascinated. Going back to George as a teenager, he didn’t have that confidence and what he saw through Roman he thought was incredible – there’s this boy who was just being himself.”

Shirlie, 60, is “hiding from the builders” at her new nation-state house after we chat over Zoom. She stocks the home with
her husband, Spandau Ballet bass participant Martin Kemp, additionally 60. They have two youngsters – Harley, 32, a singer-songwriter, and radio DJ and presenter Roman, 29.







Shirlie Kemp is recalling the instant she confirmed George Michael her son Roman’s early YouTube movies
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Joining us is fellow Wham! backing singer Pepsi DeMacque-Crockett. She’s 4,000 miles away in St Lucia, the place she lives along with her husband James Crockett. The 63-year-old, born Helen DeMacque, runs a crusing constitution corporate and could also be writing a unique.

Even by means of video hyperlink, the pair’s 40-year friendship is a pleasure to witness. The epitome of Eighties pop, Pepsi and Shirlie travelled
the sector as backing singers and dancers for Wham! between 1982 and 1986. After the band cut up, they launched their debut album All Right Now as a duo and feature since recorded backing vocals for Geri Horner.

They function in a brand new autobiographical movie known as George Michael Freedom Uncut, which is heading to cinemas on 22 June, 3 days sooner than what would were his 59th birthday. The singer was once closely concerned within the making of the movie sooner than his demise on Christmas Day 2016 and he narrates during, speaking candidly about his struggles navigating between his non-public and public lifestyles.

Few folks knew the actual George – born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou – higher than Pepsi and Shirlie, who seek advice from him via his nickname Yog (quick for yoghurt, as it sounded very similar to how his Greek-Cypriot kinfolk pronounced his identify). They percentage recollections with us that expose the big name to were a compassionate, humble and family-oriented guy who put his family and friends sooner than repute and fortune.







Shirlie was once within the yr above George and Wham! co-founder Andrew Ridgeley at Bushey Meads School in Hertfordshire (pictured 1984)
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Pepsi first met Shirlie (then Holliman) in 1982 out of doors Finsbury Park tube station in London on her solution to an audition to be a backing singer. Pepsi’s first influence of George was once that he was once “focused but funny – and was a great hugger!” For Shirlie, her friendship with the icon dates again additional. She was once within the yr above George and Wham! co-founder Andrew Ridgeley at Bushey Meads School in Hertfordshire.

“I remember George so distinctly,” she recollects.

“He carried his violin case everywhere and wore glasses – he was really geeky. I didn’t really connect with him because I was fashionable and punky.”

Little did she know that the 3 of them would shape one of the crucial a hit pop acts of the 80s, promoting greater than 30 million data international. Nor did she know that her friendship with George would develop so deep that she will be the first particular person he’d speak in confidence about being homosexual.

“We were in Ibiza making Club Tropicana at Pikes hotel and we were walking along a road,” says Shirlie.

“He had his little white shorts on and a little T-shirt and he was going, ‘I really need to tell you something.’ I was so worried as he’d gone all serious and he said, ‘It’s about my sexuality – I’m gay. I think I prefer men.’ It didn’t bother me but it was such a big deal for him. I feel guilty sometimes that I didn’t take it more seriously.”






Pepsi first met Shirlie (then Holliman) in 1982 out of doors Finsbury Park tube station in London

“Oh darling, I knew right from the beginning,” says Pepsi. “Being on the dance floor with George, he can only be gay, dear. He danced like a dream.”

George was once 27 sooner than he had his first homosexual courting with Anselmo Feleppa, a Brazilian model dressmaker who he noticed within the crowd whilst on degree in 1991, who options closely within the movie. After best months in combination the couple came upon Anselmo had AIDS, resulting in his demise in 1993. George later devoted the only Jesus To A Child to him.

Although George had a difficult love lifestyles through the years, he adored taking part in cupid for others – together with Shirlie and Martin. George no longer best dialled the telephone for Shirlie to talk to Martin for the primary time after the Spandau Ballet superstar slipped her his quantity, he accompanied her on her first date with the bass participant.

The pair, who’ve been married for 34 years, made George godfather in their youngsters, a job he took so significantly he stopped them from relocating to America.







“I remember George so distinctly,” she recollects
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“We had such a big argument about it,” says Shirlie. “He said, ‘You can’t take them away from me, we’ve got the best schools.’
He really loved our family. He had a lot in common with Roman in particular – George really connected with him. They both loved having debates and were massive Simpsons fans. He bought Roman his first PlayStation – that really changed Roman’s life. He would come round and they’d play on the PlayStation together.”

The Kemps have been because of spend Boxing Day with George sooner than his surprising demise on Christmas Day in 2016. He was once present in mattress in his Oxfordshire house via his boyfriend Fadi Fawaz after death of herbal reasons.

“My world fell apart when I was told George had died,” says Shirlie. “I don’t know if I was sick but I just collapsed.
My kids were amazing. It was a shock to them but because I was so bad they knew they had to put their grief to one side and help Mum because I was so hurt.”







Little did she know they’d shape one of the crucial a hit pop acts of the 80s (pictured 1985)
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It was once Shirlie’s daughter Harley who known as her godmother Pepsi to damage the inside track. “Harley was so brave in making that phone call to me,” says Pepsi.

“When I think of that call it just breaks my heart. She knew that Shirlie couldn’t make the call and wanted me to know.
I thought she was just calling to wish me a Merry Christmas. At first, it just didn’t compute – then all of a sudden the penny dropped. It was almost like a star went out and I just fell to my knees.”

Four years after dropping his godfather, Capital FM DJ Roman was once devastated when buddy and colleague Joe Lyons took his personal lifestyles elderly 31, and admitted to having felt suicidal himself. Roman has develop into an envoy for psychological well being, one thing Shirlie believes George conveyed thru his track.

“The great thing about George was he was articulate,” says Shirlie. “He could have been an amazing ambassador for mental health because he had the most beautiful way of talking about it. But he expressed those emotions through songwriting – that’s what he’s left. That’s his talent. That’s his legacy.”

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