Wham! Goes Boom! As George Michael Dumps His Bitter Half, Andrew Ridgeley

updated 03/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

It seems like only yesterday that George Michael—prime singer, songwriter and unquestioned star of the pop duo Wham!—was gallantly defending the contributions of his partner, Andrew Ridgeley, to the pair's success. "Andrew is important in the setup," Michael declared in 1984. "Everyone, even the record company, asks, 'Why is Andrew in the group at all? What does he do?' But if Andrew wasn't as important as I say, it wouldn't be Wham! I would simply be George Michael. I suppose he injects an edge and a humor to the stuff. I'm definitely a different person without Andrew and he's a different person without me and it's whatever comes out of that relationship that is Wham!"

Or, more precisely, was Wham! On Feb. 21 Michael, 22, announced in London that he had decided to pursue his career alone, a move that reportedly caught Ridgeley, 23, who was racing cars in southern France, by surprise. Apparently the deed was done before he could say, "Wake me up before you go-go/ 'cause I'm not planning on going solo," to quote the pair's most famous lyrical hook. Tracked down by a reporter for the London Sunday Mirror, Ridgeley, in a speech peppered with four-letter words, complained, "Nobody told me anything. The whole business makes me——ing sick." As for the future, Ridgeley says that he plans to "stick to motor racing for a while. As far as I'm concerned George can do as he likes from now on."

He undoubtedly will. A year ago he scored a No. 1 hit with his first solo single, Careless Whisper, which prompted Wham! watchers to whisper that a divorce was inevitable. In response, Wham!'s manager, Simon Napier-Bell, said last August that it was "not unreasonable to expect a split in about two years." He only missed by 18 months.

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