Wham!’s Influence Felt in China After Landmark 1985 Concert
BEIJING (AP) — George Michael’s death brought back memories in China of the heady 1980s when Wham! was the first major Western band to play in the country after the death of Mao Zedong and decades of cultural isolation.
Many Chinese who had never even heard of the band lined up for hours to buy $1.75 tickets to the groundbreaking April 1985 concert at the People’s Gymnasium, the biggest stadium in Beijing at the time.
Inside the 12,000-strong stadium seated spectators watched in bewilderment as Michael and Andrew Ridgeley danced in big-shouldered jackets with bleached and feathered hair.
The backing dancers’ strapless costumes and polka-dot miniskirts also stunned the audience in China at a time when people still dressed in similar shades of green and gray.
“It was the first time a Western band had come to China, everyone was ready to make some noise and stand,” said Li Ji, a restaurant owner who went to the concert in his 20s. “But there were so many police officers there, people didn’t dare to.”
Wham!’s manager Simon Napier-Bell had…