“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” – Vince Lombardi
Good morning peeps, meditation done.
Quote for the Day:
“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”
I hope you all had a fabulous day yesterday and ate and drank to your heart’s content and had plenty of fun with friends, family and loved ones.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday I woke up meditated and did my daily ‘Quote for the Day’ post and then said to myself I am closing my computer and not going to do anything to do with work today.
I read for a bit and then decided I wanted to do some yoga for fun, so I got up and did my daily practice. Then I had breakfast with my mother sat in the front room. The morning weather was surprisingly calm and I thought to myself maybe I will go for a walk with the dogs along the beach, but the tide was in and the waves were fairly rough so I waited a while and watched a bit of telly.
We were getting picked up at quarter to one my one of my mothers childhood friends to go to Inverness for Christmas lunch and I wanted to take the dogs out for a good walk before I left as I knew they were going to be on their own for the afternoon so at 11 I thought I would brave the beach, my timing was spot on because by the time I got to the rocks which had looked impassable from the front window the tide had just gone out enough for me to walk through the water onto the long stretch of sand and grass Zeus and Zorro love to run around and play fight on. After much throwing and fetching of large stones I headed back as the wind had begun to pick up.
As I got to the back door and let the boys in I thought to myself I fancy a quick chest workout with my weights in the gym in my garage. Even though it was freezing I opened the garage door so I could workout with the inspiring view of the sea and mountains as opposed to an iron garage door. Because of the weather I worked out in my parka and fake fur hunting hat to compensate the cold, which brings about the risk of injury when doing exercise particularly when doing heavy weights and the last thing I needed was to injure my top half whilst I am recovering from my hip flexor injury.
Because I was working out through choice instead of feeling like I had to in my daily schedule I enjoyed my workout even more than usual and felt exhilarated when I went inside and ran a radox filled bubble bath and lit some incense, whilst I did the exercises the physio had given me to load my hip flexor through it’s range of motion. There is nothing enjoyable about these exercises they are hard work and monotonous, but I know I have to do them everyday for my injury to recover. With the bath full and my exercises done it was time to reward myself by cracking open an ice cold can of Tenants and soaking in the bath, it was pure bliss and I thought to myself what a perfect start to my Christmas day.
Spot on quarter to one my mum’s long time childhood friend Sinclair arrived and we got in the car with our presents and gifts. Sinclair used to run a Highlands and wildlife tours business with his wife Kathleen, but now they had semi retired they still worked as guides for the cruise ships when they come in to the Cromarty Firth in the summer. Also in the car was a friend of his called Jimmy who I later discovered was an author who had written many books about the history of Inverness, Forestry on the Black Isle and the Highlands in general. The conversation was riveting both men were very intellectual, well read and had lived interesting lives.
I must admit I had been a little bit concerned about going to this Christmas lunch because I was going to be the youngest by a good twenty years, but Sinclair said,
“Don’t worry Stephen there will be company more close to your age my nephew’s partner Louise will be joining us, as Ewan is stuck off shore with the high winds.”
When the winds are too high it’s a nightmare for off shore workers to get back inland as the helicopters cannot fly to bring them in.
Louise had also lived an interesting life, she had worked as an armed response Policewoman up in Caithness where there is an atomic station nearby, hence the need for armed police, worked as a legal secretary, lived in Cromarty, where she had worked as a dog groomer and now worked in finance and bred cats.
My mum brought out one of Jimmy’s books and got him to sign it, which is when I discovered he was an author.
Then we sat down for a delicious Christmas lunch and had lots of great conversation washed down with plenty of alcohol. Sinclair doesn’t drink and just before eight he took Louise, Jimmy and I home to go and see to all our various cats and dogs. Louise had six cats and a chiwawa dog, Jimmy had one cat and I had three cats and two Hungarian Vizslas to go and feed and attend to as my mum is staying at Sinclair and Kathleen’s for a few days to catch up properly as they had all gone to school together decades ago at Dingwall Academy.
I took Zeus and Zorro out on the beach for a brief run around in the dark, none of us wanted to stay out long because there was a gale force wind, which I can hear is still going strong now as I write in the dark to the sound of the rain beating against the window accompanied by the howling wind.
After watching a bit of telly I went to go to bed after a fun, relaxing day and then was horrified to see George Michael had died at his home. I was devastated not another musical great going far too early in 2016 first Bowie, then Prince and now George Michael so soon after Rick Parfitt. 2016 what is going on why are you taking so many greats away from us? I have never known a year like it especially taking my all time hero Muhammad Ali away from me, although he had lived a good innings and I have been bracing myself for his death for years, because of his Parkinson’s disease
Ali, Bowie, Prince and now George Michael all meant so much to me and had provided me with so many lifetime memories and I have been fortunate enough to have met and spent time with them all through work and in George’s case socialising.
My life had changed drastically when I had moved up to London and began dancing at 19, from a village called Hassocks outside Brighton where I played sport all day and danced for fun at the weekend in Coasters in Brighton, with Rory the outrageous DJ, to being a ballet dancer in Covent Garden and hanging out in the Wag Club at the weekend with the likes of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley at the peak of their Wham fame. We would all dance all day in the studio with Charles Augins and then dance all weekend with everyone at the Wag and everyone would end up at Charle’s flat in Queensway on the weekend, where he would make his legendary Fried Chicken and Potato Salad.
Danny John Jules of ‘Red Dwarf’ and ‘Death in Paradise’ fame and Richard Bodkin were in that crew and as well as being two of the original Rockies in ‘Starlight Express’ were the two male backing singers and dancers for Wham along with Pepsi and Shirley. Those nights were really fun and George and Andrew were always surrounded by scores of beautiful women, I definitely was not complaining and loved those nights in The Wag.
And who can forget Wham’s performances in all white, with shuttle cock bulging shorts on Top of the Pops and that famous gig at Wembley Stadium?
Later George worked with another long time good friend of mine Johnny Douglas known in by most of his friends and the industry as Johnny D, Apart from George the list of artists he has worked with reads as a who’s who in the music industry, with record sales of over 65 million, the artists include Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige, Tina Turner and Kylie Minogue.
I met Johnny before he had made it as a producer when we all hang together as three Aries fun loving guys, with Jimmy Barba one of my closest mates from my dancing days. I can remember when Johnny had his first success with Gabrielle on her debut album ’Find Your Way’. It was released in 1993 and features her UK number one single, ‘Dreams’, along with three further UK Top 40 singles; ‘Going Nowhere’, ‘I Wish’ which Johnny wrote and produced and ‘Because of You’.
Johnny wrote and produced three tracks on the album, which changed his life completely, but Johnny is still a really down to earth lad from Hull and it has been nice to reconnect with him recently through Instagram and a mutual longtime friend Eric Martin aka MC Eric of Technotronic ‘Pump up the Jam’ fame.
Johnny’s most famous work with George was ‘FastLove’. George and Patrice Rushen wrote the song and the production was by George and Johnny D.
The song was nominated for Best Single at the 1997 Brit Awards and topped the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia and Spain, with the first being his seventh number one single there and his seventh most downloaded track in the UK, earning him a Gold certification by the British Phonographic Industry.
Its music video, which directed by Vaughan Arnell and Anthea Benton, was nominated for the video category at the Brit Awards and three MTV Video Music Awards in 1996, eventually won the International Viewer’s Choice Award — MTV Europe.
George recorded the whole ‘Older’ album with Johnny over three years in the studio, when Jimmy and I have often popped in to catch up with Johnny over the years.
Older found George experimenting with new musical styles and expanding his artistic horizons. Particularly notable was the jazz flavour of the album’s sound. The album marked a departure from the synthesised production of his previous projects, delivering a more organic sound with the inclusion of brass and strings. George was particularly inspired by the music of Antônio Carlos Jobim, who died in 1994, and to whom the album was dedicated.
Another big influence was the production of Johnny D, who had mixed several George Michael songs as B-sides. They first met when Johnny produced Lisa Moorish’s version of ‘I’m Your Man’ in 1995, to which George added backing vocals.
They both began to work together soon after, and they co-wrote ‘Spinning the Wheel’ together and also co-wrote and produced ‘Fastlove’. Johnny also played keyboards on those tracks.
‘Older’ was the third solo studio album by George Michael, released in Europe on 13 May 1996 through Virgin Records and one day later in the United States. The American release was the very first album released by DreamWorks Records. It was his first album since 1990’s ‘Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1’ – the five-and-a-half-year gap was due to the controversial legal battle that George experienced with his record company.
George dedicated three years to the recording of Older, and the album found him exploring new musical territories in a more serious fashion compared to his previous work
At the time of release, the album was a huge commercial hit, particularly in Europe, but was received in America with a lukewarm critical approval and mediocre sales figures. In the UK, the album was particularly notable for producing six Top Three hit singles in a two-year span, creating a record still unsurpassed. The high sales of the album presaged a re-issue of the album under the name of Older & Upper 18 months after its original release.
To date, Older has sold around 8 million copies worldwide.
Overall, the style of the album was melancholy, dark and sad. George Michael complemented this departure making a dramatic change of his clothes, hair style and overall appearance. The long hair, beard and jeans that George was known for during the late eighties were replaced with a buzz cut and mostly leather clothes.
George commented, on the ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show] about his new appearance:
“The way my image changed in Europe was that I looked very different, I had very short hair—I had really a kind of gay look in a way. I think I was trying to tell people I was okay with it [being gay], I just really didn’t want to share it with journalists. The album I made in the middle nineties called Older was a tribute to Anselmo, really; there was a dedication to him on the album and fairly obvious male references. To my fans and the people that were really listening, I felt like I was trying to come out with them.”
George Michael in my opinion was one of this country’s greatest ever singer song writers and starting with Wham and continuing with his solo career created some timeless pop masterpieces which will live forever long after his death and he created so many joyous memories for so many people all over the world.
How many people have found themselves at the end of a boozy night smooching on the dance floor to ‘Last Christmas’?
George Michael sold more than 100 million records worldwide. His 1987 debut solo album, ‘Faith’, sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Michael garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, including ‘Careless Whisper’ and ‘Freedom! ’90;
He ranks among the best-selling British acts of all time, with Billboard magazine ranking him the 40th-most successful artist to ever live.
George won various music awards throughout his 30-year career, including three Brit Awards —winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.
In 2004, the Radio Academy named George the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.
Apart from his music I will always remember him for those fun nights at the Wag Club on Wardour Street, but he was also very caring and sensitive a genuinely very nice if not at times troubled man who will be sorely missed by millions.
One last thing that I always loved about George was that at one stage he only used to travel with his passport not even hand luggage, because he had a few properties dotted around the world and he had exactly the same outfits in each of his wardrobes so he did not needed to carry anything on to the plane. I thought this was the coolest thing ever and have always wanted to try and emulate this.
George Michael RIP thank you for the memories you will be truly missed by millions and I know your death has hit them as it has hid me hard, but your memory will live on forever through your songs and the memory of you will always put a smile on my face.
Maybe it was fitting that you died on Christmas Day so it will truly be the ‘Last Christmas’
Have a beautiful Boxing Day peeps,
Breathe, Believe and Achieve
Be Happy, Healthy and Wise
Keep on Winning Smiling and Living the Dream