Christmas night of 2016 brought the jarring news that, in the morning hours, George Michael had died in bed of heart failure at the age of 53; his boyfriend had discovered the body. Suddenly he was all over the news after nearly three years of mostly silent reclusion. It’s said that he spent those years hidden away in his British mansion, bloated, chronically depressed, musically inactive, and high.
Michael was an extravagantly gifted, open-hearted soul singer whose work was both pained and smolderingly erotic; he was a songwriter of craft and substance. Prior to his death, however, the press had shown no sympathy for this self-sabotaging superstar. He lived a life of ultimate privilege, yet seemed so tortured by everything he had coveted that he could not face life sober. Fans stayed loyal, but the press was unforgiving, almost exclusively citing reports about his DUIs, his jail sentence for having crashed into a storefront, and his European tour that was canceled due to a near-fatal bout with pneumonia.
Michael's story follows an arc that many who have raw talent and find fame come to know: He was a troubled, chemically dependent artist who poured his struggles into music of deep psychological complexity, musical sophistication, and soul. His mystique looms large over the work and is, in turn, not easily forgotten. George Michael: A Life explores the tragically predictable story of an utterly unpredictable artist—how he found and then lost himself in the music.