This Week In Rock History: George Michael Busted and the World Meets ABBA

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April 4th, 1995 - Duran Duran squander their comeback with bizarre covers album

Duran Duran have always had trouble capitalizing off momentum. Just two years into their career, after the release of 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger, they splintered off into solo projects that kept them apart for three years. For the next seven years they struggled mightily to regain their Rio-era buzz – but they finally scored two massive hits in 1993 with "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone." After a grueling world tour and a long break, however, the group decided what the world wanted to hear was Duran Duran's take on songs by Grandmaster Flash, Sly Stone, Public Enemy and the Temptations. It wasn't a good plan.

"Some of the ideas at play here are stunningly wrong-headed," wrote J.D. Considine in his Rolling Stone review of the disc. "Like the easy-listening arrangement of Elvis Costello's 'Watching The Detectives' or the version of Zeppelin's 'Thank You' that sounds like the band is covering Chris DeBurgh. But it takes a certain demented genius to recognize Iggy Pop's 'Success' as the Gary Glitter tune it was meant to be or redo '911 Is A Joke' so it sounds more like Beck than Public Enemy." The LP was a huge commercial flop and it obliterated all the hard-earned goodwill they scored just two years earlier.

April 7th, 1998  - George Michael arrested for committing "lewd act" in a men's room

Hard as it may be to imagine, George Michael was firmly in the closet until April of 1998. That was when he was arrested outside of a Beverly Hills public bathroom for "engaging in a lewd act." A few months later Michael sat down with MTV to explain what happened. "I got followed into the restroom," he said. "Then this cop – I didn't know it was a cop, obviously – he started playing this game, which I think is called, 'I'll show you mine, you show me yours, and then when you show me yours, I'm going to nick you.' Actually, what happened was once he got an eyeful, he walked past me, straight past me and out, and I thought, that's kind of odd. I thought, maybe he's just not impressed. And then I went to walk back to my car, and as I got back to the car, I was arrested on the street. ... If someone's waving their genitalia at you, you don't automatically assume that they're an officer of the law... I've never been able to turn down a free meal."

The incident got Michael more press than he'd received in years, and  – showing remarkably good humor – he spoofed the incident in his song and video "Outside." Marcelo Rodriguez , the arresting officer, was so offended by the video that he sued Michael for $10 million. He eventually lost the case. In recent years Michael has admitted that he occasionally still has anonymous sex at public places. "A very large part of the male population, gay or straight, totally understands the idea of anonymous and no-strings sex," he told the BBC after being photographed at a gay cruising spot in England. "The fact that I choose to do that on a warm night in the best cruising ground in London – which happens to be about half a mile from my home – I don’t think would be that shocking to that many gay people.”

LAST WEEK: The Beatles Call It Quits and the Ramones Begin

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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