Wham’s Andrew Ridgeley pays tribute to George Michael at the BRIT Awards following his death as dancers Pepsi and Shirlie break down in tears

Andrew Ridgeley paid an emotional tribute to his close friend and former Wham! band-mate George Michael at the BRIT Awards on Wednesday evening.

The 54-year old was joined by the band’s former backing singers Pepsi and Shirlie at London‘s O2 to honour their late friend, whose sudden death was announced on Christmas Day.

“We were two boys who happened to share a mutual sense of humour… and a shared sense we understood,” he said. “We messed around making jingles in George’s bedroom… We larked around and laughed a lot. We were the best of friends. Thus we formed our first band. It sparked and spluttered leaving two that became three.” Shirley then said: “The three of us hung out listening to music and making up dance routines to the early sounds of the eighties… These innocent moments became the seed in which his amazing and enthralling showmanship evolved,” before Andrew spoke about how Careless Whisper helped them back a huge breakthrough.

He said: “Careless Whisper was the song that got us signed the song that glimpsed his extraordinary talent and the song that launched him as a solo artist.Both Pepsi and Shirlie became emotional while speaking about the iconic singer, and Pepsi said: “We always knew that George was destined to become a star in his own right, on tour Shirlie and I would watch him sing. His voice was stunning, pitch perfect.”

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Pepsi confirmed that it had been the first time the trio were back together on stage since since June 28, 1986.

Andrew and George forged a close bond in the early Eighties when they were part of the band The Executive.

They went onto create Wham! in 1981 and eventually their demo got picked up, with Shirlie confessing on Wednesday that she remembered mailing out the tapes.

Explaining how Shirlie came into the fold, she told The Independent in 1997: ‘I’d been friends with George and Andrew since school – I was the year above them.

‘George used to make up all these dance routines which we’d do in nightclubs; we were either great or so bad that everybody cleared the floor.

‘Wham! started out as an extension of the dance routines. George was the organiser, Andrew had all the charisma – I went out with Andrew for two years. My mum adored both of them.’

Hi-res images can be found on our website www.scopefeatures.com

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