His disenchantment with stardom collapsed into depression over the next years. In June 1994, a little bit greater than a yr after Feleppa died, Michael lost the Sony case. In 1997, his beloved mother, Lesley, died of cancer. And in 1998, he was arrested in a Beverly Hills park for committing a “lewd act” with an undercover policeman, which is when he got here out as gay and declared, “I don’t feel any shame in any way.”
Within the midst of those troubles, he released a 1996 album, “Older,” which included the Top 10 hits “Jesus to a Child,” written in tribute to Feleppa, and “Fastlove.” (Michael called “Older” “my biggest moment,” and an expanded edition might be reissued on July 8.) But he made only yet one more album of original songs in the next 20 years before his death.
“Freedom Uncut” vivifies Michael for younger generations that didn’t pass though the Pop Star Wars of the ’80s. He loved and emulated Black music, which created controversy within the moment — George Benson’s eyes nearly rolled back into his head when he announced Michael’s 1989 American Music Award win in the favourite soul/R&B album category. But time often engenders empathy, and the singer is now viewed as an ally. “Michael’s journey as a working-class gay white man from London who loved Black music and Black culture gave him an intersectional legacy that few artists (save Prince) will ever achieve,” Jason Johnson wrote in The Root, an internet site that focuses on African American issues, two days after the singer died.
The undeniable fact that Michael was able to jot down, arrange and produce at such a high level places him in “the rarefied air of Sly Stone, Prince or Shuggie Otis,” Mark Ronson added in a phone interview. “It’s crazy, because he made incredible R&B music, but he didn’t go to America to record it” with Black musicians, he noted. “There wasn’t the insecurity of being a white soul boy from England.”
Ronson also hears melancholic and even mournful qualities in Michael’s music: “Quite a lot of our favourite artists sound catchy and peppy, but while you peel back one or two layers, you see someone who’s coping with serious inner demons.”