They made their next album, 1984's Make it Big, with Sony and through tracks such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go", "Everything She Wants" and "Freedom", the duo became one of the world’s biggest pop acts.
But given Michael was writing all the hits, it surprised nobody when he went solo, releasing the album Faith in 1987, and forging one of the great solo careers in modern music history.
His hits included "Fast Love", "I Want Your Sex", "Freedom! '90", and "Too Funky".
In 1998, Michael came out as gay after he was caught engaging in a sexual act in public by an undercover police officer in Beverly Hills that year.
After a career that included five solo studio albums and numerous world tours, George Michael was found dead in bed at his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day, 2016. He was discovered by his partner Fadi Fawaz, an Australian hairstylist and photographer.
“It’s an xmas I will never forget finding [my] partner dead peacefully in bed first thing in the morning. I will never stop missing you xx,” posted Fawaz.
His death at a relatively young age shocked the world and came in the same year as the untimely deaths of two other music giants, Prince and David Bowie.
At the time, Elton John paid tribute to his friend during a concert in Las Vegas by playing "Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me", which the pair once recorded together as a duet.
At first, Michael's manager Michael Lippman said the star had died of heart failure.
But when the autopsy into his death was inconclusive, it led to speculation of foul play or suicide. Police then confirmed the singer’s death was being treated as “unexplained but not suspicious.”
Then, the official coroner's report attributed Michael's death to natural causes: dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and a fatty liver.
“The Truth is out…” posted Fawaz, who had been the subject of malicious rumours regarding his partner’s death.
“All the nasty comments, press ... were very cruel and unnecessary whatsoever ... Now I hope to receive some real LOVE x.”
In an interview on Sharon Osbourne's TV show The Talk, Elton John suggested that Michael's early death was inevitable due to his dependency on drugs, and that he didn't want to live any more.
“He couldn’t get it, George," said John. "And he resented the fact that I had hinted that maybe he change his life a little bit and he’d be happier if he tried something else."
Michael was buried in Highgate Cemetery, in north London, near his mother's grave. Outside his former London home, fans created an informal memorial garden.
"Forever loved," said Andrew Ridgeley in a tribute.