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Frank Sinatra Wrote This Open Letter To George Michael In 1990
Michael and Sinatra. (Getty)
In 1990, just six years after George Michael stepped into the limelight with Wham!, he was slowly trying to backstep out of it. An article that ran in the L.A. Times that September declared that Michael's "pop dreams proved to be a personal nightmare, leaving him on the verge of an emotional breakdown during the early weeks of the 1988 'Faith' tour." Micheal explained, "I decided that the thing I really enjoy... the thing I really needed was my songwriting. I didn't need the celebrity."
For some reason, Frank Sinatra (then a seasoned 70-year-old) felt the need to respond via open letter, which ran in the L.A. Times a week later. Sinatra encouraged Michael to embrace his fame and talent, but perhaps did not realize that Michael was also struggling with being a closeted gay man; he would not come out for eight more years.
September 9, 1990 Dear Friends,
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. And that'll make two of us thanking God every morning for all that we have.
I don't understand a guy who lives "in hopes 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.
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
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. 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.
Talent must not be wasted. Those who have it - and you obviously do or today's Calendar cover article would have been about Rudy Vallee - those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you.
Trust me. I've been there.
Here's Sinatra's letter in its original form: