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“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is a 1984 song by the English pop duo Wham! which became their first UK number one hit. It was written and produced by George Michael, one half of the duo.
Michael’s inspiration for the song was a scribbled note left by his Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley for Andrew’s parents, originally intended to read “wake me up before you go” but with “up” accidentally written twice, so Ridgeley wrote “go” twice on purpose. Released in May 1984, it heralded the beginning of a softer, sunnier image for Wham!, who had spent the previous year as a moodier, more politically themed duo, with songs about unemployment, young marriage, and battles of will between parents and their children. With the release of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, they re-emerged with wider smiles, more colourful clothing, and a more positive disposition in interviews.
In 1984, George Michael had this to say on the development of the song:
I just wanted to make a really energetic pop record that had all the best elements of Fifties and Sixties records, combined with our attitude and our approach, which is obviously more uptempo and a lot younger than some of those records. It’s one of those tracks that gets rid of a lot of your own personal influences; it reminds me of so many different records that I couldn’t actually nail them down. I’d done a demo at home that just had a bass line and a vocal on it. Usually, I write the record in my head; I know what all the parts are going to be and I sing them to all our musicians. And it was great. … We actually did it as a rehearsal. We used a Linn drum because the drummer was late, and it was such a good track that we kept it.”
The song entered the UK singles chart at number four — after much hype from the duo claiming they would go straight in at number one, which was a rare occurrence then — and climbed to the top spot seven days later, staying there for two weeks.
Michael followed it up with a solo single, “Careless Whisper” and another Wham! hit, “Freedom”, both of which were also UK number-one hits. The song also went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States followed by the number-one singles “Careless Whisper” and “Everything She Wants” and the number-three “Freedom”. The album, Make It Big, was an unqualified success. Wham! had three more UK number one singles and split at their height in 1986.
Wham Bassist Deon Estus was born in Detroit and graduated from Northwestern High School in 1974. He sang second tenor in the choir at Northwestern under the direction of Brazel Dennard. His bass (guitar) teacher was the late James Jamerson of Motown’s The Funk Brothers.
Estus joined the R&B band Brainstorm as a teenager, recording two albums with them and scoring a hit with “Popcorn.” During the early 1980s, he appeared as a session bassist on several mainstream albums, including Marvin Gaye’s 1982 comeback album, Midnight Love. After his bass talents were recognized, he was invited to join the UK pop group, Wham!. He went on to tour China with Wham! and later backed Wham! frontman George Michael on his Faith tour. He also participated in the late-1980s collective, Boogie Box High, which was spearheaded by George Michael’s cousin, Andros Georgiou, and featured Michael along with other high-profile musicians; Estus appears on the group’s only album, Outrageous, released in 1989. Estus later performed with Michael at Rock in Rio and has continued to play bass as part of Michael’s backing band.
In 1989, Estus released a solo album entitled Spell, produced by Colin Campsie & George McFarlane, with several tracks produced by George Michael. Released before the album, the single “Me or the Rumours” reached #15 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts in 1988. In 1989, the album’s title track hit #11 on the Adult Contemporary charts. However, the album’s biggest hit was the #5 Billboard Hot 100 single “Heaven Help Me,” for which Michael supplied backing vocals. It also peaked at #3 on both the Adult Contemporary and Hot R&B charts. The album itself ultimately reached #89 on the Billboard 200 and #44 on the Top R&B Albums charts.
He has also played with Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, Frank Zappa, George Clinton, Annie Lennox, Edgar Winter, Aaron Neville, and Elton John. He most recently produced and co-wrote songs for aspiring singer Julie Anne, who boasts a five-octave range.