Andrew Ridgeley's Final Encounter with Wham! Partner George Michael

Diving into cherished moments from the Wham! band's history.

by Nouman Rasool
Andrew Ridgeley's Final Encounter with Wham! Partner George Michael

Andrew Ridgeley, fondly remembered as half of the iconic '80s pop sensation Wham!, is poignantly reminiscing about his dearly missed bandmate, George Michael, who tragically passed away on Christmas Day in 2016 at the tender age of 53.

Now 60, Ridgeley recently opened up in an intimate interview with PEOPLE, ahead of the highly anticipated July 5 premiere of the Netflix documentary, Wham! In the course of their conversation, Ridgeley divulged an endearing detail: the last occasion he spent with Michael was marked by a friendly game of Scrabble.

According to Ridgeley, Michael was an ardent aficionado of the word game, and they often found themselves engaged in spirited contests.

Recalling Scrabble Rivalry Memories

Ridgeley humorously recalled, "He'd bested me the previous week, and I was in the throes of exacting sweet revenge." He described the moment as a throwback to the essence of their boyhood camaraderie and friendly rivalry.

"It was a game that stimulated us both," he fondly recounted. "That was a few months before his tragic departure," Ridgeley continued, adding a heartfelt note that he was not Michael's sole 'Scrabble comrade.' As he nostalgically remarked, the two originally met during their school years, and after a brief stint in a ska band with five other friends, they soldiered on to form the duo that would become Wham!

Their breakthrough came in 1982 with a record deal, followed by their second studio album, Make It Big. The album truly lived up to its name, catapulting them to global fame, thanks to the power of hits like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Careless Whisper." However, by 1986, Michael's soaring ambitions led to Wham!'s dissolution, paving the way for his highly successful solo career.

This year, Michael's iconic career is posthumously recognized, with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a distinction Ridgeley passionately believes his late comrade wholly deserves. "He would be rightfully proud and he unquestionably deserves his place there," Ridgeley expressed.

"George was a true icon, a legend of modern music," he lauded. "As I mentioned in my Brits tribute, he was a supernova amidst a firmament of shining stars, and arguably the finest singing voice and songwriter of his era. Few could hold a candle to his brilliance," Ridgeley concluded.