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December 26, 2016

In 1985, George Michael Played the First Western Pop Concert in Beijing, These Are 30 Rare Photos of Wham! in China

In 1985, Wham! took a break from recording to embark on a lengthy world tour, including a ground-breaking 10-day visit to China, the first by a Western pop group.

Three decades ago, as China was recovering from the trauma of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, it gradually started opening up to Western culture. The first performers to get through the door were Wham!.

In April 1985, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley took to the stage in Beijing at the People’s Gymnasium in front of 15,000 people, becoming the first Western pop act to play a concert in China. They played another show in the southern city of Guangzhou at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

With the death of 53-year-old Michael on Christmas Day, Chinese fans, like those in the rest of the world, mourned yet another tragic loss in 2016. In particular, many Chinese internet users remembered Michael through Wham!’s groundbreaking 1985 visit.

Wham!’s concert in Beijing was groundbreaking, but it was not by any means a great show. A breakdancer who ventured into the crowd seemed to have crossed the line in conservative 1980s China, with organizers announcing a ban on standing during the show afterwards. Some of the audience mistook the cameras of television film crews for secret police, so they sat rigid in their seats.


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