George Michael

'Everybody warmed' to George Michael says friend and manager

George Michael
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"He was a wonderful person," says David Austin. "A caring, kind, giving man.

"It never stops amazing me how he touched people and how much love there is for him."

He's been speaking to the BBC whilst casting his eye over George Michael's art collection, which is on display at Christie's in London before going under the hammer on Thursday.

He recalls Michael's final months - before he died on Christmas Day 2016 - fondly, remembering how George dealt with a couple of over-enthusiastic fans.

"I remember sitting in a restaurant one evening and people were looking across thinking, 'Ooh, it's George Michael!'" he told our music reporter Mark Savage.

"I got up to go to the toilet, and when I came back he was having a cup of tea with two women at the next table. They were just talking about life and their problems, and I was like, 'What is going on here?'

"That was a small moment, but it was important - because that's exactly who he was. Everybody warmed to him, from Princess Diana to those two women in the restaurant."

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Andrew Ridgeley to write about friendship with George Michael

Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael
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As schoolfriends and then Wham! bandmates, Andrew Ridgeley arguably knew George Michael better than anyone and now he has announced a new book about their friendship and the formation of their group.

George & Me will chart their rise to fame and success and will also cover their farewell gig at London's Wembley Stadium in 1986.

George died on Christmas Day 2016 at the age of 53.

Ridgeley wrote at the time: "I cried like I'd never cried before."

Andrew Ridgeley with Pepsi and Shirlie
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Andrew Ridgeley with Pepsi (l) and Shirlie

He and former backing singer Pepsi and Shirlie paid an emotional tribute to George at the Brit Awards in 2017.

“A supernova in a firmament of shining stars had been extinguished and it felt like the sky had fallen in. It started out ordinarily enough," he said.

"In 1975 we were two boys who happened to share a mutual sense of humour, a love of life-affirming music, the artists and record it gave birth to, and a shared sense that we understood it."

Ridgeley's publisher Louise Moore said he "is the only man who can tell this story.

"It's a memoir of love, friendship and music."