George was good before he died. It was so shocking
Backing singer and close friend Shirlie on star’s final days
HEARTBROKEN Shirlie Holliman has broken her silence over pop pal George Michael’s death to admit she is still struggling to cope with the loss of the superstar.
In an exclusive interview Shirlie – one of George’s backing singers in Wham! – tells how the star had been perfectly fine when she saw him shortly before he died last Christmas Day.
And it was the shock of his passing at just 53 – and wild, initial speculation about the cause – that is still the hardest thing for Shirlie to come to terms with.
In the weeks after he died many reports claimed his death was linked to long-term health problems.
But Shirlie, 55, insists nothing could be further from the truth.
She says: “It was a shock, a massive shock for us all, when he died. None of us were expecting it.
“He was good before he died, there was nothing wrong with him, so yes, it was a shock. It was also very public.
“I didn’t read any of the stories at the time, we knew the truth and George’s family, who I am very close to and speak to a lot, knew too.
“His family are very, very private. I have known them for many years, as I did George. I know the truth.
“We had to let the fire burn out with the things that were written after George’s death.
“George was someone who I loved and who loved me very much.
“I miss him and it is so sad for me, we knew each other for over 40 years and we laughed so much together and I have really special memories of him.”
A coroner ruled the star had died of natural causes brought on by heart and liver disease.
But despite nine months passing, Shirlie – one half of pop duo Pepsi and Shirlie – still misses him terribly.
It was George who played Cupid to Shirlie and Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp by setting them up on a blind date in the 1980s.
They went on to marry and George became godfather to their two children Roman, 26, and Harley Moon, 28.
George’s fans have this month downloaded new music from the star – the single Fantasy featuring Nile Rodgers. But Shirlie hasn’t yet summoned the strength to listen to the new record.
She explains: “It makes me feel too sad. I can’t. It is too sensitive for me at the moment.
“I will do so in time. Every day I go online and I think I will listen to it but it is very sensitive. I will do when I’m ready.
“I think George would be happy that it’s out there. He loved making music for people to dance to, for people to enjoy, have fun, to make them smile.
I miss George so much... I knew him for 40 years and have special memories SHIRLIE HOLLIMAN BACKING SINGER ON HER POP SOULMATE
is George’s legacy. We grew up dancing to his music and he would want people to go out and buy his music and enjoy it in the same way we did.
“There are generations of people to come and enjoy him yet, that’s what he would love.”
This is Shirlie’s first interview since she gave an emotional tribute to George at the Brit Awards in February alongside Pepsi DeMacque and George’s great pal and Wham! co-star Andrew Ridgeley. Today she is supporting husband Martin as Spandau Ballet premiere their new documentary Through The Barricades.
Since George’s death there have been repeated calls for his family to give its blessing to a memorial event where fans can pay tribute.
But Shirlie said: “There are no plans for any memorial service. The best tribute to George is to go out and buy his music, dance to it and enjoy it.”
YOUNG GUN George with Shirlie and pal in 1980s FLAWLESS George’s music still wows fans says Shirlie
I’M YOUR MAN George fixed date for Shirlie and Martin