- Title: Fans pay tribute to George Michael in London club named after Wham! hit
- Date: 7th January 2017
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) COMPERE OF EVENT AND FRIEND OF GEORGE MICHAEL, JULIAN BENNETT, SAYING: "I feel that we live in a society now where all these Instagram social media people are like 'look at this look I've got this I've got this, oh I'm donating 50 grand', whereas the real people don't talk about it and they just do it. He was a philanthropist at the end of the day and I think a lot of people are learning about that now. What we have to be careful about is that all the bad stuff is going to come out as well but that's just part of the parcel of being in the public eye. Let's forget about that and let's think about what he did." TRIBUTE POST-IT NOTES ON WALL (SOUNDBITE) (English) COMPERE OF EVENT AND FRIEND OF GEORGE MICHAEL, JULIAN BENNETT, SAYING: "I'd rather be here to say 'I can't believe George just won an Oscar' or 'George just did this', it's one of those conversations. I think we go through life thinking people are indestructible but unfortunately they're not and 2016 is proof of that. It's not been a good year for a lot of people." VARIOUS OF MALE TOPLESS DANCERS WEARING MICHAEL MASKS (SOUNDBITE) (English) PARTYGOER, AMRIT SAGOO, 40, SAYING: "Today it's all about you (George Michael), your music, you know what you gave to me, what you gave to millions of gay people, do you know what today is a celebration, I would never ever you know, cry. Today is your celebration, I'm so proud of what you gave to me, you know what there was lonely times in my life, lonely times. I used to be alone, your music gave me a lot and George I thank you for that. Today is a celebration about your life and today is about his life."
- Embargoed: 22nd January 2017 00:35
- Keywords: george michael tribute london club tropicana band wham memorial
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Music
- Reuters ID: LVA0045Y2XUTJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hundreds of devoted fans gathered at a party in central London on Friday night to pay tribute to George Michael, after the double Grammy-award winning singer died on Christmas Day.
With a live band playing the ex-Wham! singer's hits in the backdrop, fans young and old thronged the dancefloor of Soho's Tropicana Beach Club, its name inspired by the 1983 Wham! single "Club Tropicana."
"We had originally planned the event for Thursday with about 50 to 100 people," said club manager Anthony Knight. "However we had thousands of messages and calls from fans begging us to change it to the weekend."
As barmen in straw hats poured drinks for the partygoers in booths with thatched roofing, a cohort of muscular men wearing nothing but shiny red boxers and George Michael masks made their way through the crowd, posing for the occasional selfie.
"I'd rather be here saying 'I can't believe George just won an Oscar' or 'George just did this'," said the event's compere Julian Bennett, who was a friend of the late singer.
"I think we go through life thinking people are indestructible, but unfortunately they're not and 2016 is proof of that."
In one dedicated corner of the club, fans stuck sticky notes of tribute to the "Careless Whisper" singer on a wall.
"Childhood soundtrack, foundation of friendships, lonely days, joyful dances, cheesy sing alongs - all scream George. Lovely, genuine, funny man of ours. Lots of love," one note read.
While entry to the party was free for guests, donations were collected in aid of three charities the 53-year-old singer supported - Childline, the Terrence Higgins Trust, and Macmillan Cancer Support.
"He was a philanthropist at the end of the day," said Bennett.
The cause of Michael's death is still unclear after an initial autopsy and more tests are needed, British police have said.
In the mid-1980s, Wham! were one of the most successful pop duos with singles such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Last Christmas", and "The Edge of Heaven" before Michael embarked on a solo career.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None