To quote the late, great David Bowie: “Fame.”
It’s a force to be reckoned with, especially for those who find themselves at the tippy-top of the entertainment business, shallowly adored by many and understood by few.
Why do you think Sia’s always wearing that wig?
The weight of stardom hung heavy on George Michael at the hight of his career. In 1990, the L.A. Times published a story about Michael’s reluctance to promote himself any more than he already had.
“I’m not stupid enough to think that I can deal with another 10 or 15 years of major exposure,” Michael said at the time. “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.”
Well another musical icon wasn’t having any of that.
Frank Sinatra, then in his 70s, took it upon himself to offer the young artist some sage advice.
“Come on, George,” Sinatra wrote in an open letter that has recirculated since Michael’s death on Christmas day. “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.”
While Sinatra certainly knew his share of tabloid gossip and ever-present fame, one glaring difference was that in 1990, Michael hadn’t yet come out as gay.
Would Sinatra have given the same advice if he knew the torment of living a closeted lie?
Here’s the full letter:
Frank Sinatra's letter to George Michael pic.twitter.com/LXDpjiXqdD
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) December 26, 2016
Needless to say, Michael went on to perform for the next 25 years, much to the profound pleasure of his worldwide fanbase.