30 years a star: George Michael’s biggest moments

— Powerful covers, unforgettable duets and a few scandals sprinkled here and there — George Michael’s life was anything but boring.

Here are some of the most memorable moments from the career of the singer who died Sunday at the age of 53.

’80s hits

Wham!, the band that shot him to fame, was formed in 1983, and some of its biggest moments came just a year later.

“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” released in May 1984, was Wham!’s first number one single in the UK and US, topping the Billboard chart and spending another 24 weeks there.

Two months later, “Careless Whisper,” Michael’s first solo single, debuted, also reaching the pole position on Billboard. The song spent three weeks topping the UK charts.

The next year, Wham! became the first Western pop group to perform in China, spending 10 days in the country, which was slowly beginning to open up again to the outside world after the Cultural Revolution.

“No one had ever seen anything like that before,” one concertgoer told the BBC last year. “The singers were all moving a lot and it was very loud. We were used to people who stood still when they performed.”

That summer, he and Andrew Ridgeley, the other half of Wham!, performed an unforgettable duet with Elton John at Live Aid, one of the first mega concerts to help bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s

But the band wouldn’t make it past the ’80s — and when news of the breakup surfaced, the decision caught Ridgeley by surprise, People magazine reported at the time.

In 1986, Wham! had its final show — which drew an audience of 72,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium, according to Michael’s website — and released its final album.


The next year Michael collaborated with one of his favorite musicians, Aretha Franklin.

The pair had a hit with “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me,” with the song topping charts and winning a Grammy — his first.

Michael began the ’90s on a high note, taking home a second Grammy for his debut solo album, “Faith.”

And he released more of greatest singles — “Praying for Time,” which topped the Billboard charts and “Freedom! ’90,” which cracked the top 10.

Not so free

His music career didn’t reach those heights again during the ’90s, though he continued make headlines.

In April 1998, he was arrested in Beverly Hills, California, for soliciting sex in a public restroom.

Days later, he came out on CNN.

“I spent the first half of my career being accused of being gay when I hadn’t had anything like a gay relationship,” Michael said in that interview with CNN. “So I spent my years growing up being told what my sexuality was … which was kind of confusing.”

Michael said he decided to keep his sexuality out of the public eye because was unhappy with the way he was treated in his younger years, before he actually realized he was gay (he said he didn’t have his first gay relationship until he was 27.)

“But you know, this is as good a time as any.”

The new millennium

Michael continued to get into trouble with the law the following decade, being arrested for drug possession on various occasions and serving a prison sentence for driving under the influence of drugs.

Though he made headlines for scandal, he also made news for his activism, often participating in benefit concerts for AIDS and other causes.

Musically, he continued to innovate, transitioning from pop to soul and other musical genres.

His final album , “Symphonica,” was released in 2014. The album, which was well received critically, includes mostly live songs with a full orchestra.

Gavin Long: Who is Baton Rouge cop killer

Gavin Long shot six cops, killing three of them, on his 29th birthday.

Investigators trying to figure out why a Marine sergeant would eventually murder police in broad daylight will likely look to the writings and online footprint of Cosmo Setepenra, the name Long legally changed his name to.

Setepenra wrote books about “esoteric health and nutritional practices” and “how to develop your higher-self.”

On two separate websites he describes himself as a “Freedom Strategist, Mental Game Coach, Nutritionist, Author and Spiritual Advisor.

And in one video online he claims that victims of bullying need to resort to brute force: “100% have been successful through fighting back. Through bloodshed. Zero have been successful just over simply protesting. It has never worked, and it never will.”

Here’s what we know about Long’s background and the views and opinions he espoused under the Setepenra pseudonym.

Long’s time in Dallas

In a recent video posted on YouTube July 10, Long, who was African-American, speaks at the camera eloquently about recent protests and officer-involved shootings, often employing the motifs of blood and money and revolution.

He cites figures ranging from Nat Turner to Malcolm X and George Washington.

That video, he says, was recorded from Dallas, where five police officers were recently killed by a sniper targeting cops.

Long mentions the July 4 holiday as a celebration of an uprisings against oppressive forces, and without mentioning Micah Xavier Johnson — the Dallas shooter — by name, he questions why some violent actions are perceived as criminal while others are celebrated.

A video posted two days earlier is a bit more cryptic, but makes more sense in the aftermath of his shooting rampage.

“I just wanted to let y’all know, don’t affiliate me with nothing,” he says. He says he wanted people to know that his actions were his alone.

He then goes on to list organizations he may be affiliated with — including the Nation of Islam (which he says he was a member of), Floyd Mayweather’s The Money Team (he’s wearing their hat) and terror groups like ISIS.

“I thought my own stuff; I made my own decisions; I’m the one who gotta listen to the judgment,” Long added.

The Washitaw Nation

After he was killed, investigators found a card on Long’s body suggesting he was a member of the Washitaw Nation, according to two law enforcement officials.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Washitaw Nation “as a sovereign tribe descended from pre-Columbian blacks who settled in North America.”

Long legally changed his name to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra in May 2015, claiming that he was “seeking to correct” his name, because he was part of the indigenous society, United Washitaw De Dugdahmoundvah Mu’er nation.

The group is just one of many fringe groups to which the gunman may have belonged.

Long followed several conspiracy groups devoted to government surveillance and monitoring. An email address linked to him showed that he was a member of a support group in an organization called Freedom from Covert Harassment and Surveillance.

The group’s mission is to help those “marginalized and abused by … remote brain experimentation, remote neural monitoring of an entire humans body.”

On that site he’s identified as a “Buddy” representing other “targets” of government surveillance.

The FBI is vetting the claim Long made on YouTube that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. An official said the belief is that Long identified as being associated with the black separatist movement in some capacity but there is no indication he was directed by it. The law enforcement official said the FBI has no indication any black separatist or other domestic terrorist groups are supporting or sending people to kill cops.

Marine service

Long joined the Marine corps in 2008 and worked as a data network specialist, according to the U.S. military.

He was deployed to Iraq and spent time in California and Japan before being discharged at the rank of sergeant in 2010.

He received a handful of awards, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.

The shooting

Two law enforcement sources told CNN that Long rented a car in Kansas City after the Dallas shootings and drove it to Baton Rouge.

Since one of his YouTube videos was posted from Dallas on July 10th, it’s likely he made the trip to Baton Rouge from Dallas.

He was not alone during his stay in Baton Rouge, a law enforcement source told CNN. But, it’s unclear if his associated were actively involved in any plot.

The shooting began Sunday when police received a call of a “suspicious person walking down Airline Highway with an assault rifle,” a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

When police arrived, they were ambushed. Long was wielding an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, law enforcement sources told CNN.

“There was no talking, just shooting,” Baton Rouge Police Cpl. L.J. McKneely said.

Police officers who responded to Sunday’s shootings killed Long in a minutes-long gunbattle.

“He wasn’t robbing a bank,” an official told CNN. “He was armed to shoot it out with police.”

CNN’s Steve Visser, Patricia DiCarlo, Curt Devine, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report