It is often easy to get lost in the idea of stardom. What appears to be all glitz and glamour can often act as a clever facade that helps to hide the truth. In the case of George Michael, his meteoric rise to stardom—with both Wham! and his solo career—seemed to act as a temporary salve trying desperately to heal something few understood.

On the surface, he appeared to have it all. He was handsome, talented, and charming. He was a beloved figure in mainstream music by the time he had graduated high school. His career was getting bigger and bigger with each passing year. Michael's smoldering stare and perfect grin were splayed across every tween, teen, and music magazine in existence, and there appeared to be no stopping his success.

Yet far below the surface, there was a man who was going through tragedies and losses, forced to live in a state of fear that his identity as a gay man would be discovered. The more layers of Michael's life you peel back, the more one realizes the adage "money can't buy happiness" is not just an annoying cliché—it is a harsh reality. It appeared Michael tried his hardest to face his troubles alone, regardless of the cost to his own mental health.

When we think about the things we didn't know about a star, and we look back and reflect upon the things they tried to keep private, it would do us all a great deal of good to remember that "stars" are, in fact, still human. That love and loss, tragedy and triumph, mistakes and lessons are not relegated solely to those who exist outside of stardom. This serves as an important reminder that no amount of money or fame can keep any of us from having to deal with the human experience.

Stacker compiled the life story of George Michael based on a variety of sources, including Michael's own words, interviews, documentaries, and music databases. The following is meant to honor who he was but also to remind us all that one never fully knows what others are going through—no matter how perfect their life may seem.

George Michael: His Life in Photos

Stacker compiled a list of events from George Michael's life you may not know, drawing from news accounts, biographies, magazine interviews, and more.

Gallery Credit: Olivia Monahan

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