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Alien Skies: The Touring Story of Wham! in China

The "Wham!" concert in China was a landmark event, a kind of "cultural revolution," but with a new meaning. It opened the way to China for other musicians who had never dared to visit the Celestial Empire before. For the Chinese audience it was not just a performance by a fashionable band, but something much more.

How George Michael's band became the first Western group to perform in the Celestial Empire

In 1985. British pop group "Wham!" played her first concert in China. This has become landmark eventbecause Wham! were the first Western performers to be able to go to to this closed country in those days.

China in 1985

Until the 1980s, there were no speeches in China. None of the Western musicians because of ideological differences and the closed nature of the country. In 1985, the country was coming to its senses after The Cultural RevolutionThe fact that it was one of the destabilizing factors in the area of cultures, and began to open up to the world. It was at this transitional moment for China that the leaders of the pop scene "Wham!" come to the country for ten-day tour.

Popularity "Wham!" at the time

Many people compare Wham!'s rise in popularity on the world stage to the effect of of an exploding bomb. Duo George Michael and Andrew Ridgely by that time had released  two albumsThe album is a great success, with tracks that have topped the U.S. and European charts. Hit "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" is considered one of the guys' most popular compositions, and without "Last Christmas." has not been a part of Christmas celebrations for 35 years!

So the whole world can see that "Wham! - best known group in the world (rather than, for example, "Depeche Mode or "Duran Duran."), the band's manager decided to organize concerts in China.

Long time Simon Napier-Bell convinced Chinese officials that it was his wards who were worthy of representing western culture. The choice was between "Wham!" and the then mega-popular "Queen."who also didn't mind performing in front of a Chinese audience. The team manager even I decided on a ruse.: He handed out pamphlets to Chinese officials that showed Queen in a bad way. There were pictures of MercuryThe members of Wham! were represented in another pamphlet. The members of Wham! in another pamphlet were represented as coming from working class.

"Wham" on the Great Wall of China
"Wham!" on the Great Wall of China

Chinese Tour: How It Happened

These concerts have become eventwhich Chinese up to the present day recall with special emotions. Every little thing Surprised and caused a mute rapture: a different style of dress, long hair, bright colors - the Chinese usually dressed in things blue, gray, and green.

Of course, music even more surprised the audience. According to the recollections of the Chinese, it was a real cultural shock! After all, they're used to artists just stand still on the stage. It was accepted that the audience sit quietly at concerts, I don't sing alongand don't move to the beat of the tune. A stunned audience Beginning at get up from the field and stomp to the beat of the music, to which she immediately reacted Police. Somehow, after a sporting event, the public flipped the carwhich stood not far from the stadium. That's why since then the law enforcers feared of anything excitement.

Wham fans at a concert in China, 1985
Fans of "Wham!" at a concert in Beijing, 1985

Also in China at that time there was no no nightlife - в 20:30 it was necessary be at home. It is interesting that even for guitar playing could have been blamed in hooliganism!

George Michael's memories of the trip

George Michael recalls:

"The main purpose of our visit to China was to show its people our wonderful culture. However, upon arriving in the Celestial Empire, I realized how much these intentions were child's dreams. The reality turned out to be much more prosaic. The Chinese government hypocritically declared their willingness to accept Western music, but in fact wanted to impose their culture on the West. It was just a blatant lie and nothing more. If I could turn back time, I would probably mark this tour. I don't think I'll ever go back there. Not in this lifetime, anyway!"

George continues:

"We generally had doubts about the intelligence of the Chinese. I used to agree with the socialist views a little bit. But after seeing them put into practice, I can say that it's all bullshit! It turns out that their bureaucrats are the same as in all other countries. At every opportunity they wanted to rip us off. After all, if we come from the West, we have to pay for absolutely everything. In many managers, capitalism is much more pronounced than in their Western counterparts. I would call it innate greed.

According to the group's calculations, this trip brought them considerable losses. million dollars! The only consolation was that they were able to show the Chinese something new. In other words, the tour brought exclusively moral satisfaction and nothing else.

"We really wanted to make history. We were the first, and not necessarily the last, Western artists to come to China. Naturally, it was very satisfying!" - George resents.

"Wham" in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 1985
"Wham" in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 1985

The result of the Chinese tour

Back homeWham!" continued to be at the top of the popularity scale. In many Interview the team emotionally Criticized hypocrisy and Backwardness The Celestial Empire, the materialism of politicians and corruption.

Of course, after the Wham! performances, people did not protest in the streets. But still, it was. landmark eventA kind of "cultural revolution," but with a new meaning. The road to China has opened up other musicianswho had previously hesitated to visit the Celestial Empire. For Chinese viewers it was more than just a performance a fashionable group, but something much more. After all western music extremely contrasted with everything they had heard before.

Memory about this on a historic trip preserved in the documentary "Wham! in China: Foreign Skies" ("Wham! in China: Alien Heaven") and a colorful music video for the song "Freedom.".

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