Wham! was an English musical duo formed by members George Michaeland Andrew Ridgeley in 1981.
They were briefly known in the United States as Wham! UK due to a naming conflict with an American band. Wham! sold more than 30 million certified records worldwide from 1982 to 1986.
Michael and Ridgeley met at Bushey Meads School in Bushey near the town of Watford in Hertfordshire. The two at first performed in a short-lived ska band called The Executive, alongside former school friends David (Austin) Mortimer, Andrew Leaver and Paul Ridgeley. When this group split, Michael and Ridgeley eventually formed Wham!, signing with Innervision Records. British graphic design studio Stylorouge was credited with adding the exclamation point to the name of the band.
Michael took on the majority of roles and responsibilities within the band—composer, producer, lead singer, and occasional instrumentalist. Still teenagers, they promoted themselves as hedonistic youngsters, proud to live a carefree life without work or commitment. This was reflected in their earliest singles which, part-parody, part-social comment, briefly earned Wham! a reputation as a dance protest group.
The debut record to be released by the band was “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” in June 1982. It was a double A-side including the Social Mix and the Unsocial Mix. The record was not playlisted by BBC Radio 1 in the UK, partly because of the profanity in the Unsocial Mix. Separate videos were recorded for each set of lyrics.
“Wham Rap!” did not chart for the group, but in October 1982 “Young Guns (Go for It!)” was issued. Initially, it also stalled outside the UK Top 40 but the band got lucky when the BBC programme Top of the Pops scheduled them after another act unexpectedly pulled out of the show.