In the mid ’80s, British pop star George Michael released his first solo effort, a ballad: Careless Whisper.
When he was 17, Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley composed the song, using his emotions from his first attempts at romantic relationships to write the lyrics for the song which became Careless Whisper.
Although Michael was still in WHAM!, he recorded the song as a solo effort, first recording it at the famed Muscle Schoals Studio in Alabama.
The Muscle Schoals version of the song, produced by Jerry Wexler, was going to be released by Innervision, but the label decided to not release the single. Instead, Innervision released Club Fantastic Megamix, a collection of songs by WHAM!, despite the band’s decision to leave the label.
Michael didn’t like the finished product created with Wexler and re-recorded the song producing the song himself. The sentimental ballad included a prominent saxophone solo, played by Steve Gregory.
Released in August 1984 by Epic/Colombia/Sony, Careless Whisper had an accompanying music video that was filmed in Miami, showing Michael feeling guilt over an affair, which became a favourite on music video shows and on MTV and MuchMusic.
Entering the UK singles charts at number 12, Careless Whisper quickly shot to number one in the United Kingdom, and by February 1985, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States.
Careless Whisper hit number one in 25 countries, with the song credited as WHAM! featuring George Michael. The song has been covered multiple times including versions by Bananarama, Seether, Gloria Gaynor, Kenny G and Edward G. Valentine.
In Spring 1986, the duo announced the breakup of WHAM!.