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Wham!'s influence felt in China after landmark 1985 concert

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/26/2016
FILE - In this April 7, 1985 file photo, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of the British group WHAM! perform during a concert in Peking, China. Michael, who rocketed to stardom with WHAM! and went on to enjoy a long and celebrated solo career lined with controversies, has died, his publicist said Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. He was 53. (AP Photo) © The Associated Press FILE - In this April 7, 1985 file photo, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of the British group WHAM! perform during a concert in Peking, China. Michael, who rocketed to stardom with WHAM! and went on to enjoy a long and celebrated solo career lined with controversies, has died, his publicist said Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. He was 53. (AP Photo)

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 after the death of Mao Zedong.

Chinese who had never even heard of the band lined up for hours to buy $1.75 tickets to the 1985 concert in Beijing.

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.

The Wham! concert influenced Chinese musicians, who had never seen electric guitars played on stage and began to get interested in rock 'n' roll.

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