Frank Sinatra had some advice for George Michael in 1990 as the pop star was shrinking away from the spotlight: quit complaining.
Following a cover story in the Los Angeles Times magazine in which Michael discussed his aversion to fame, Sinatra wrote an open letter urging the “Faith” singer to embrace his stardom.
“When I saw your Calendar cover today about George Michael, ‘the reluctant pop star,’ my first reaction was he should thank the good Lord every morning when he wakes up to have all that he has,” Sinatra wrote. “And that’ll make two of us thanking God every morning for all that we have.”
The Los Angeles Times cover came as Michael refused to make music videos for his songs, despite MTV’s growing fame.
Pop star George Michael dead at 53
“I'm not stupid enough to think that I can deal with another 10 or 15 years of major exposure. I think that is the ultimate tragedy of fame... People who are simply out of control, who are lost. I've seen so many of them, and I don't want to be another cliché,” Michael said in the 1990 interview.
“I'm sure a lot of people are going to believe all this is just some sort of gimmick...just another way to stir interest. But I'm also sure that most people find it hard to believe that stardom can make you miserable. After all, everybody wants to be a star. I certainly did, and I worked hard to get it. But I was miserable, and I don't want to feel that way again.”
Sinatra, who still maintained a busy schedule into the ‘90s and performed 65 concerts in 1990, had different ideas about how to handle fame.
66 photos view gallery In memoriam: Remembering the famous figures we lost in 2016
“I don’t understand a guy who lives ‘in hope of reducing the strain of his celebrity status.’ Here’s a kid who ‘wanted to be a pop star since I was about 7 years old.’ And now that he’s a smash performer and songwriter at 27 he wants to quit doing what tons of gifted youngsters all over the world would shoot grandma for — just one crack at what he’s complaining about,” he wrote.
George Michael anonymously donated millions to charity
“Come on, George. Loosen up. Swing, man, Dust off those gossamer wings and fly yourself to the moon of your choice and be grateful to carry the baggage we’ve all had to carry since those lean nights of sleeping on buses and helping the driver unload the instruments.”
The letter, which has been circulating on social media since Michael’s sudden death on Christmas Day, came as the former Wham! singer was promoting his “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” album, which was released in September 1990.
It was also nearly eight years before Michael publicly came out as gay in April 1998, just after being arrested in a Beverly Hills park for “engaging in a lewd act.”
The singer later said that he felt “fraudulent” for hiding his homosexuality.
James Corden did first-ever ‘Carpool Karaoke’ with George Michael
“I'd been out to a lot of people since 19. I wish to God it had happened then,” Michael told the Independent in 2007. “I don't think I would have the same career — my ego might not have been satisfied in some areas — but I think I would have been a happier man.”
9 photos view gallery A look at Frank Sinatra’s most famous shenanigans
The “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” singer later became a prominent gay-rights activist, including raising money for HIV/AIDS research.
Sinatra, however, had no interest in excuses for why Michael tried to stay out of the limelight.
“And no more of that talk about ‘the tragedy of fame.’ The tragedy of fame is when no one shows up and you’re singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint that hasn’t seen a paying customer since Saint Swithin’s day,” the crooner wrote. “And you’re nowhere near that; you’re top dog on the top rung of a tall ladder called Stardom, which in Latin means thanks-to-the-fans who were there when it was lonely.”Send a Letter to the Editor