Monday, 26 December 2016

RIP GEORGIOS KYRIACOS PANAYIOTOU



Another one bites the dust. Time - 2016 - is, of course, to blame. Get real. George was always the first to say that timing is everything. The suggestion that he may have taken his own life on Christmas Day, as some are saying, is therefore not so far-fetched. George was a control freak, a planner, an obsessive. The significance of Christmas Day will not have been lost on him. He created 'Last Christmas', one of the great modern Yuletide classics, to link his name indelibly with the season. Every year, for as long as we care, we will now remember George on Christmas Day. The arrogance, though breathtaking, should be forgiven.
I spent time with George and Andrew Ridgeley in the Eighties. We worked together. His former manager, Simon Napier-Bell, and his Sony publicist Jonathan Morrish, remain my friends. I have other close pals who went to school with George in North London. On a number of occasions, I got to glimpse the real Yog. He was a tormented soul who lived a lie. He never came out to his family while his mother was still alive. He felt compelled to wait until she died to be honest about his orientation.
The self-deception of his youth was a cancer. The damage would not be repaired. George admitted to a void, created by his distance from his parents and wider family, which generated unbearable deprivation. He acknowledged that he sought adoration from complete strangers, in order to fill that void. The harder he tried, the less he was able to compensate. He craved peace. He accepted that his need to become an artist was a cry for help. He agreed that he was desperately insecure, and that he was addicted to applause. He fell in love with Elton John at a very young age. Performing his Elton favourite, 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' on stage with his idol was, he said, the pinnacle of his career. The pair later fell out, made up, fell out, made up, in that intensely emotional manner that tends to be the downfall of superstars.
George pressed the self-destruct button years ago. He gave in to his desires, and did time for them. He lost out in love, giving away his heart and having it returned to him in bits. Few can recover from that, least of all those whose every nerve ending is exposed to and raked over by millions of fans, dependent on his music and demanding, always demanding, answers about love and the meaning of life that he was not equipped to give.
This is how I will remember him: at Live Aid, 13th July 1985. George was twenty two, in his  prime, proud to be part of the greatest show on earth, and lapping up every blink of it. I watched him from the wings that day, getting everything he needed in the giving. If only in the moment. At least he had that. 


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