George Michael, who died on Christmas, leaves behind an extensive Billboard chart history that includes numerous R&B hits. The multifaceted singer, songwriter and producer made major R&B inroads first as the frontman of duo Wham! (with Andrew Ridgeley) and then as a soloist.
Notably, Michael became the first white soloist to top the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart (then called Top Black Albums) when his debut solo set Faith, featuring a more mature and gospel-tinged sound than his Wham! output, led the list for six weeks in 1988. (Average White Band became the first white act overall to top the chart, with two sets in 1975.)
Faith reached the top of the chart after a lengthy 25-week climb (and four months after first topping the Billboard 200). To date, only three other albums have taken longer to hit No. 1: Guy‘s self-titled set (40 weeks, 1989), Vanessa Williams‘ The Comfort Zone (34 weeks, 1992) and Terence Trent D’Arby’s Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby (26 weeks, 1988).
In September 1988, Michael told JET magazine, “I was much happier with [Faith] being the No. 1 Black [chart] album than I was when it became the No. 1 pop album. There was much more of a sense of achievement. I knew this album would be a shock or a surprise to people in this country. The uptempo side of the new music is more overtly sexual, more black.”
Michael first appeared on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 1985 (when it was called Hot Black Singles), billed as a featured act on Wham!’s “Careless Whisper.” The track spent 15 weeks on the chart and peaked at No. 8, the highest-charting of three Wham! entries on the tally.
As a soloist, Michael ticked 12 more entries on the chart. In all, he hit the top 10 six times and earned one No. 1: “One More Try,” from Faith (June 18, 1988). His first entry as a solo act was the Aretha Franklin duet “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).” The song reached No. 5 and earned Michael his first Grammy Award, for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals in 1988.
George Michael’s Chart History on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
Title, Peak Position, Peak Date
“Careless Whisper” (Wham! featuring George Michael), No. 8, March 16, 1985
“Everything She Wants” (Wham!), No. 12, June 8, 1985
“I’m Your Man” (Wham!), No. 55, Feb. 8, 1986
“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (Aretha Franklin & George Michael), No. 5, April 18, 1987
“I Want Your Sex,” No. 43, July 25, 1987
“Hard Day,” No. 21, Nov. 21, 1987
“Father Figure,” No. 6, March 26, 1988
“One More Try,” No. 1 (one week), June 18, 1988
“Monkey,” No. 8, Sept. 10, 1988
“Kissing a Fool,” No. 33, Nov. 26, 1988
“Heaven Help Me” (Deon Estus with George Michael), No. 3, May 20, 1989
“Killer/Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” No. 88, July 31, 1993
“Jesus to a Child,” No. 22, Feb. 24, 1996
“Fastlove,” No. 44, June 29, 1996
“As” (George Michael with Mary J. Blige), No. 57, March 27, 1999
Michael’s most recent hit on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, in 1999, was a cover of Stevie Wonder‘s “As,” with Mary J. Blige. With 20 weeks, it was his longest-charting hit on the list, despite peaking at No. 57. The track appears on an international version of Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael. Released as a single in the U.K., where it reached the top 10 on the Official U.K. Singles chart, the import album cut was picked up by a handful of R&B radio stations Stateside shortly after Billboard changed the chart’s methodology to include songs that were not available for sale (a requirement prior to 1999). “As” also rose to No. 32 on the Adult R&B Songs airplay chart.
Michael’s influence was also felt in Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hits for other artists that either interpolated or fully remade his compositions. In 1993, P.M. Dawn took “Looking Through Patient Eyes” to No. 63, while in 1998, LL Cool J sent “Father” to No. 12; both songs rework Michael’s “Father Figure.” Additionally, Foxy Brown‘s “I Can’t” (featuring Total), which samples Wham!’s “Everything She Wants,” reached No. 61 in 1999. The same year, Divine‘s cover of “One More Try” rose to No. 13.