Pepsi and Shirlie reflect on George Michael’s friendship and join Wham: “It was fate…


11 July 2022, 06:00

Pepsi and Shirlie talk to Smooth.

Image: Getty/Lisse/Global

Pepsi & Shirlie burst onto the pop scene in the early 1980s when they were part of Wham! alongside his friends George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley.

The couple appeared as backing dancers and vocalists for the legendary pop duo, and later formed their own hit pop group after Wham! called it a day in 1986.

In an exclusive interview with Smooth Radio’s Paul Phear, Pepsi and Shirlie talk about their close friendship with George Michael, how they joined Wham! first, and the legacy they all left behind.

On the Global Player special, Pepsi and Shirlie talk about the magical moment they first heard “Careless Whisper” in Shirlie’s car, how George first dated Shirlie, and the power of the music of George and Wham! nowadays.

They also talk about what it was like to go out on their own and how they both met George and Andrew when they were young.

Andrew performed ‘Careless Whisper’. And I literally went cold, and I just had a vision – because I’m still very intuitive. I just had this vision of this voice – I had never heard a voice like this, first of all. It was just something I had never heard before from a male vocalist. And I remember thinking, “The whole world is going to know this person. They will know it. That voice is so appealing to every sensory cell in your body.”

-Shirlie Kemp

The interview is an eye-opening and moving look at one of the greatest pop bands of all time, and is a watch to watch for any George Michael fan.

Speaking about how she met the duo, Shirlie said: “I was the year above them so I didn’t hang out with them at school. But I ran into Andrew a time we had all left school, and we just remembered each other from school, and talked about music for a whole night.

“I went through the whole punk thing, watching bands, and it was just something that I loved. And I had never met anyone so passionate about music. So he ended up saying : ‘You have to come and see Yog.’

Wham on stage with Pepsi and Shirlie

Wham on stage with Pepsi & Shirlie.


“And I was like, ‘Now who is Yog?’ I went, ‘Oh, the boy who played the violin. So I remembered him.

“And it was so nice because the three of us, as quickly as I connected with Pepsi in my car – me, George and Andrew, we got along so well. I don’t know. It’s just a connection that I wouldn’t have really had before so instantaneous.”

On joining Wham!, Pepsi said: “I think for us, we were very lucky – we weren’t stuck in the back singing. We were actually outspoken with George and Andrew.

“They had a backing vocal set, but we were part of the show. It was something I had to get used to, because I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to be a backing vocalist for Wham. But Andrew was like, I remember, being a little worried about… ‘When am I going to do my backing vocals?’

Pepsi and Shirley

Pepsi and Shirley.


“Shirlie was like, ‘OK, let me talk to the boys about this.’ And Andrew was like, ‘Fine, Peps. Do you want to be stuck behind a mic, doing backing vocals?

“And that’s what happened. We ended up being like the dancers and being part of the entertainment and everything. So we were just up there with the boys. Which one would you pick? I picked to be up there with the boys.”

Watch the full interview exclusively on Global Player here

The Autobiography of Pepsi and Shirlie It’s all black and white is now available in paperback.

The George Michael Special 25th anniversary edition of Older is released on august 12.


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