Why did Wham! break up? Netflix documentary’s trailer and release date revealed

Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of Wham! at the film premiere of the original Dune in 1984  (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael of Wham! at the film premiere of the original Dune in 1984 (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

The upcoming Netflix documentary covering the ups and downs of Wham! singers George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley has dropped its first trailer.

Directed by Chris Smith, the documentary is set to lift the lid on the behind-the-scenes goings-on of the band, who enjoyed huge chart success in the 1980s.

Smith told the Radio Times why the programme will be different from previous Wham! documentaries. He said its sole focus is on the period between 1980 and 1986 through the lens of friendship.

“This movie is about Wham! And it’s about that time period,” he said. “So it wasn’t about everything that happened after. It was really just about that. I mean there can be many other films on their lives going forward, but this was the one that we were focused on.”

As well as providing fans with a detailed look at the group during the height of their fame, it will also pay tribute to the life and career of Michael. He died aged 53 of natural causes on December 25, 2016 in bed at his Oxfordshire retreat.

Netflix said of the documentary: “In 1982, the best of friends and still teenagers — George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley as Wham! — set out to conquer the world. By June of 1986, they played their very last gig at Wembley Stadium having done exactly that.

“Now for the very first time, told in their own words, the amazing story of how in four years they dominated the charts around the world with timeless and classic pop songs.”

So, when will the documentary come out, who exactly is Andrew Ridgeley, and why did the band break up? Here is everything you need to know.

When is the Wham! documentary coming out?

The Netflix trailer has revealed that fans will be able to stream the highly anticipated documentary on Netflix from July 5, 2023.

Who is Andrew Ridgeley?

Ridgeley is an English singer and songwriter best known for being one-half of the musical duo Wham!

Ridgeley and Michael were best of friends and went to school together.

They were in their teens when they took the country by storm in their rolled-up jeans and espadrilles after forming Wham! in 1981.

Between 1982 to 1986, the pair sold more than 35 million records worldwide.

Towards the end of the group’s fame, Ridgeley had earned himself a reputation as a party animal. He was dubbed “animal Andy” and “Randy Andy” and, in 1985, was allegedly ordered to leave the Live Aid after-party because of his “wild antics”.

Andrew Ridgeley at the Last Christmas premiere in 2019 (PA)
Andrew Ridgeley at the Last Christmas premiere in 2019 (PA)

When Wham! split, Ridgeley moved to Monaco and tried to begin a new career in Formula Three motor racing — but it didn’t work out. He also released a solo album, but it flopped, something he labelled as “disappointing”.

In 2019, he had a cameo in the movie Last Christmas, which was inspired by the work of Wham!

He is rumoured to be worth £10 million from sales and royalties of records. He is said to receive thousands of pounds annually from the song Careless Whisper alone, which he co-wrote with Michael.

Ridgeley has been heavily involved in the new documentary. A source told Metro: “It is a really exciting project and they are putting a lot of resources into it. Andrew is also very keen for the opportunity to look back over his years with George in the band — though it will, of course, be bittersweet for him.”

Why did Wham! break up?

Wham! released their final song, The Edge of Heaven, in 1986. It became Wham!’s fourth No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart and their final US top-10 hit,

Despite the band’s success, it was heavily reported that Michael attracted the most attention as the band’s heart-throb, something Ridgeley was said to be jealous of.

Although Michael never publicly quit Wham!, it was rumoured he was the driving force behind the band calling it a day.

He was quoted as saying he wanted to “write to more honest emotions in his records, creating songs that people could personally relate to” and target a more adult audience.

Shortly after his announcement, the pair went their separate ways while only in their early 20s. Wham! held a farewell concert called The Final, in front of 72,000 people at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, June 28, 1986.

Michael went on to enjoy a highly successful solo career, selling between 100 and 125 million records worldwide. This makes him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.

However, he also endured well-documented struggles with drug addiction.