Entertainment & Arts

George Michael says illness caused five-week memory gap

George Michael
Image caption The singer's new track White Light is about his experiences

Singer George Michael has revealed he has a five-week gap in his memory from when he was battling pneumonia late last year.

The star told BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans that it was "touch and go" whether he would survive his time in hospital.

Michael said he had to learn to walk after the illness, which left him fighting for his life, as his muscles had wasted away.

The 49-year-old said: "It's like I just dodged a bullet."

Michael was forced to cancel a string of shows while he was treated in the Austrian capital Vienna, where he said medics "downplayed" his condition to avoid a "death watch kind of thing".

The true extent of his illness did not become public until after his release from hospital.

The singer admitted the severity of his condition could have been avoided if he had followed advice to get checked out, when a temperature forced him to pull out of a show at the Royal Albert Hall a few weeks earlier.

"I took it for granted that I'd just fought off flu," the former Wham star told Evans.

"I went and played for another three weeks in Europe. And then one afternoon I was having lunch and suddenly felt really odd and said to everyone that I had to go and lay down for half an hour on my own," he added.

"And that's the last thing I remember for five weeks. It was three weeks of them trying to save my life and two weeks awake."

Close to death

The star has written new single White Light about his near death experiences.

Kate Moss features in the video, more than 20 years after missing out on starring in his supermodel-filled promo for his single Freedom.

Michael told Evans in an interview for his breakfast show that he was "very close" to death on several occasions, and still found it upsetting to talk about.

"When something like that happens in such a random fashion, I think it takes a while to think that life is safe again."

He continued: "I literally had to learn to walk again and weird stuff, because when they keep you sedated for that long your muscles literally atrophy at an incredible rate. And I just woke up like this feeble old man."

In March this year Michael announced rescheduled dates for The Symphonica tour, starting on 4 September with a newly-added date in Vienna.

He said he would donate 1,000 tickets to the medical staff in the city who had looked after him.

Michael also confirmed to Evans that he is scheduled to perform at the Olympics closing ceremony in August.

"That's the plan yes," he said. "I'll be playing a couple of songs to kick off the concert at the end."

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