George Michael tells how he lost faith in love and ‘never recovered’ after the death of Anselmo Feleppa in heartbreaking documentary

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GEORGE Michael dismisses his entire life as “a waste of time” and admits he never recovered from the death of his first love in heartbreaking scenes from his new documentary.

The tragic star, who produced the show himself, was putting the final touches to Freedom just 48 hours before his shock death last Christmas.

 George Michael dismissed his life as a 'waste of time' in his new documentary

PA:Press Association
George Michael dismissed his life as a ‘waste of time’ in his new documentary

And in what would become his final message to fans, he reveals how he was still struggling to get over losing boyfriend Anselmo Feleppa, who died from Aids more than two decades earlier.

In moving footage, George admits: “He still, 23 years later, brings a tear to my eye. He was my saviour.”

Reclusive George produced the landmark documentary, which airs later this month on Channel 4, from his home in Highgate, North London, alongside best friend David Austin.

The resulting doc, which close friend Kate Moss introduces and describes as “George Michael’s final work”, provides a captivating insight into a troubled star who battled his demons to the end.

 George admits he never recovered from the death of his first love Anselmo Feleppa

Louie de Fillipis
George admits he never recovered from the death of his first love Anselmo Feleppa

 The ex-frontman of Wham! produced the documentary himself and he was putting the final touches on it just 48 hours before his death

The ex-frontman of Wham! produced the documentary himself and he was putting the final touches on it just 48 hours before his death

Freedom sees George bring together interviews, archive footage and home videos in a visual autobiography.

But having piled on the pounds in the months before his death, he employs an actor to pose as him writing the documentary’s script at a table — while the superstar narrates throughout from behind the camera, mainly as the words are typed.

He describes how he found happiness fronting pop band Wham! then explains: “This is the story of just how fame and tragedy intervened.”

And its poignant closing scenes feature never-before-seen archive footage of George in which he writes his own epitaph.

 George Michael pictured with his mum Lesley

Alpha Press
George Michael pictured with his mum Lesley
 George Michael pictured with Andrew Ridgeley in their Wham! heydays

Getty – Contributor
George Michael pictured with Andrew Ridgeley in their Wham! heydays
 In Freedom, George brings together interviews, archive footage and home videos in a visual autobiography

Getty – Contributor
In Freedom, George brings together interviews, archive footage and home videos in a visual autobiography
 George employs an actor to pose as him writing the documentary's script while filming because he had put on weight in the months leading up to his death

Rex Features
George employs an actor to pose as him writing the documentary’s script while filming because he had put on weight in the months leading up to his death

George Michael rehearses for Freddie Mercury concert with David Bowie

Asked how he would like to be remembered, he says: “I hope people think of me as someone who had some kind of integrity. I hope I’m remembered for that — very unlikely.

“I think it’s all been a waste of time, a waste of effort.”

George had hoped the documentary would provide a history of his illustrious 35-year career — but sadly never lived to see it aired.

He died from natural causes at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day, aged 53.

 In the closing scenes George says he would like to be remembered for his integrity

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In the closing scenes George says he would like to be remembered for his integrity
 George Michael had hoped the documentary would provide a history of his illustrious 35-year career

Rex Features
George Michael had hoped the documentary would provide a history of his illustrious 35-year career
 George died of natural causes on Christmas Day at his home in Goring-on-Thames aged 53

Rex Features
George died of natural causes on Christmas Day at his home in Goring-on-Thames aged 53
 The 90-minute documentary features A-list friends like Sir Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Liam Gallagher

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The 90-minute documentary features A-list friends like Sir Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Liam Gallagher
 Very little about George's upbringing is mentioned

Getty – Contributor
Very little about George’s upbringing is mentioned

The moving 90-minute film features A-list friends and music peers including Sir Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Liam Gallagher.

George devotes very little of the documentary to his upbringing as Georgios Panayiotou, the only son of Greek Cypriot restaurateur dad ­Jack, and ­British mum Lesley Angold, a dancer, in North London and Herts.

But his tragic love life features heavily, despite no mention of his long-term lover, Texan art dealer Kenny Goss, or last on/off boyfriend Fadi Fawaz.

Instead he tells of his perpetual agony over Anselmo’s death and gives a heartbreaking glimpse into his struggle to find happiness despite global fame, success and fortune.

Kenny Goss talks to the Sun on Sunday about George Michael’s funeral

He met Brazilian designer Anselmo in 1991 while performing at ­Brazil’s Rock in Rio festival.

George recalls: “Anselmo was the first time I think I really loved ­someone selflessly. It was kind of knee-jerk. I felt immediately that everything had changed.”

Crucially, Anselmo also helped George come to terms with being gay. He says: “It’s very hard to be proud of your own sexuality when it hasn’t brought you any joy. Once it’s associated with joy and love, it’s easy to be proud of who you are.

“The first time you actually believe somebody loves you, that’s a wonderful moment in your life and it was a wonderful six months.”

 The documentary goes in depth about the agony of Anselmo's death and George's struggle to find happiness

The documentary goes in depth about the agony of Anselmo’s death and George’s struggle to find happiness
 George met Anselmo, a Brazilian dancer, while performing at Brazil's Rock in Rio Festival

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George met Anselmo, a Brazilian dancer, while performing at Brazil’s Rock in Rio Festival
 Anselmo was George's first love and he helped George come to terms with being gay

Getty – Contributor
Anselmo was George’s first love and he helped George come to terms with being gay
 George says that it is hard to come to terms with being gay when it does not bring you any joy

Getty – Contributor
George says that it is hard to come to terms with being gay when it does not bring you any joy

But just months after falling for him, Anselmo fell ill, and the man George said he had waited “a lifetime to be loved by” had an Aids test. George says: “I remember looking at the sky and saying, ‘Don’t you dare do this to me!’

“I went home to my family for Christmas and sat at the Christmas table not knowing whether this man I was in love with was terminally ill and therefore not knowing whether I was, potentially, terminally ill.”

Tragically Anselmo died aged 36 of an Aids-related illness in 1993.

A devastated George targeted his anger at his record label Sony, taking them to court in 1994.

He lost the case but in 1995 convinced a rival label to buy him out and a year later released the album Older, which included the tribute to Anselmo, Jesus To A Child.

Anger vented at Sony

GEORGE co-produced the documentary with executives from Sony Music – but didn’t hold back from digging up their infamous feud.

In 1994, still heartbroken over Anselmo, George launched a landmark legal battle against the label in a bid to break free from it. He lost the High Court case.

He recalls: “I used to go and run and play squash and do everything I could to get rid of all this anger and fear. But the best place for it was court No1.

“I will never know if Sony and I would have ended up in court had Anselmo not become ill.

“There was the part of my personality that would say, ‘I’ve got to do something good with this time in my life. Change the path of artists’ lives’.”

Pal Sir Elton John recalled the star’s strength in taking on the label, with whom he later reconciled.

The Rocket Man singer explains: “He thought he was being wronged and he fought his corner.”

But hinting at his regret at the failed battle, George adds: “I lost. I didn’t just lose, I lost completely – on every count.”

It sold eight million copies, but any joy was short-lived. He says: “I had about a six-month period where things were OK. Then I found out my mother had cancer.”

Lesley passed away, aged 60, in 1997. A “spiritually crushed” George spiralled into a deep depression and struggled to make new music.

His misery was a far cry from his early success in Wham!, where colourful outfits and lively tunes such as

I’m Your Man helped him and schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley shift 28million records.

George recalls: “Wham! was an absolute joy. My god what a wonderful joyride for two 18-year-olds.”

 Within a few months of falling in love with Anselmo, he fell ill and then tragically died of Aids in 1993

AFP – Getty
Within a few months of falling in love with Anselmo, he fell ill and then tragically died of Aids in 1993
 George took his label Sony to court in 1994 and lost the case in 1995, but he convinced a rival label to buy him out

Getty – Contributor
George took his label Sony to court in 1994 and lost the case in 1995, but he convinced a rival label to buy him out
 George released an album in 1996 called Older and the song Jesus To A Child was tribute to Anselmo

George released an album in 1996 called Older and the song Jesus To A Child was tribute to Anselmo
 The album Older sold eight million copies but the joy was short-lived because George's mum was diagnosed with cancer

Rex Features
The album Older sold eight million copies but the joy was short-lived because George’s mum was diagnosed with cancer
 George was 'spiritually crushed' when his mum died in 1997 and he spiralled into a deep depression

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George was ‘spiritually crushed’ when his mum died in 1997 and he spiralled into a deep depression

A year after the band’s 1986 split, George released solo album Faith. It sold more than 20million copies and made him a global megastar.

George says: “I went with full gusto into creating a new character, one I thought would be resonant enough to stand up there next to Madonna and Michael Jackson and Prince. I was looking for happiness but this was the wrong road.”

He told his record label, Sony, he wanted to withdraw from promotion because his fame had taken him “to the edge of madness”.

So the 1990 album, Listen Without Prejudice, was released without an image of the singer or even his name on the cover.

 George and his schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley sold 28million records as the group Wham!

1984 Phil Dent
George and his schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley sold 28million records as the group Wham!
 Wham! split in 1986 and George recalls it as an 'absolute joy'

Rex Features
Wham! split in 1986 and George recalls it as an ‘absolute joy’
 George's first solo album Faith sold more than 20million copies and made him a global megastar

Rex Features
George’s first solo album Faith sold more than 20million copies and made him a global megastar
 In the documentary, George talks about looking for happiness in the wrong places

In the documentary, George talks about looking for happiness in the wrong places
 George released the album Listen Without Prejudice in 1990 without his name or picture on the cover

Rex Features
George released the album Listen Without Prejudice in 1990 without his name or picture on the cover

Sir Elton John says in the film: “The fact he didn’t do any promotion is quite astonishing.”

Though it sold a modest eight million copies, it gained George huge credibility and new fans. Among them Liam Gallagher, who calls George the “Modern Day Elvis” and admits he loves Listen Without Prejudice.

The ex-Oasis frontman says: “You get into the lyrics. I like ‘The rich declare themselves poor’. It’s got a bit of a dig. ‘You bunch of c***s, always playing the poverty card!’.”

George was also absent from the video for Freedom 90. Instead it features scantily clad supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford, who talk about it in the documentary.

 The late star glosses over several of his well-documented struggles including his arrests and drug troubles

Rex Features
The late star glosses over several of his well-documented struggles including his arrests and drug troubles
 In the documentary, George points out that megastars 'are a dying breed'

Rex Features
In the documentary, George points out that megastars ‘are a dying breed’

But it also included incendiary images which, along with the song’s lyrics, reflected how he hated fame.

George explains: “The burning jacket, the exploding guitar the exploding jukebox, its me just saying, ‘I’m sick of this’.”

But the late star glosses over several of his well-documented struggles including arrests for public indecency and drug troubles.

Instead he leaps forwards to more recent successes, including his Comic Relief 2011 skit with James Corden — which sparked the TV host’s hit Carpool Karaoke.

James Corden remembers George Michael and how he helped create Carpool

James said: “Without that sketch I don’t think I’d have a successful show in America.”

Other artists, including Madonna and Britney Spears, took part too. But as George points out at the end of the documentary, megastars are a dying breed.

And he was unquestionably one of them.

Fitting Tribute

GEORGE never lost sight of his artistic ambitions and integrity, and this documentary is a fitting monument to that, writes SIMON BOYLE.

Yes, he overlooks some of his more obvious public embarrassments, but his sorrow and pain are clear.

His decision to avoid appearing on camera is testament to how a once-confident performer had become a reclusive shadow of his former self.

Ending the documentary with a melancholy question over whether his life and career had been “a complete waste” will leave fans with a lump in their throat.

This is a fitting reminder of the unique and inimitable talent the world lost.

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