George Michael’s final years were punctuated by a disturbing descent into illegal substances, especially the so-called “date rape” drug GHB.
George Michael’s final years were punctuated by a harrowing descent into illegal substances, especially the so-called “date rape” drug GHB.
After the careless Whisper singer finished his 25 Live Tour in 2008, he “lived in a haze,” according to a new book.
“He slept until midafternoon then stayed high on pot for almost every waking moment,” writes James Gavin in the biography George Michael: A Lifeout June 28. “He sat at his computer playing video games, binge-watched TV, arranged GHB-fuelled trysts and took midnight joints to [Hampstead] Heath” — one of the most notable gay cruising areas in Europe.
In September 2008, the Wham! frontman was discovered by police in an underground men’s room in the Heath. After searching Michael, they found marijuana and crack cocaine and arrested him.
Months later, he was arrested yet again after a car accident and police found him “drenched in sweat” with “gaping eyes and dilated pupils.”
It was the singer’s seventh arrest in 12 years. His license was suspended for five years and he was sentenced to four weeks in prison.
“For Michael, GHB seemed heaven-sent,” Gavin writes. “Apart from fueling his sexual compulsiveness, he made a depressed and self-loathing man feel attractive; it brought joy where there was little. GHB gave him confidence on Hampstead Heath and with the most intimidatingly sexy escorts. But it also took him to a frightening new level of self-destruction. GHB is more addictive than meth, and riskier in all varieties.”
The drug also fueled Michael’s on-and-off nine-year relationship with British adult-film actor and escort Paul Stag.
“Michael paid him both for sex and for procuring his new drug of choice, GHB,” Gavin writes. “In text messages, they called it ‘champagne.’”
Stag would deliver the drug in travel-size shampoo bottles and Michael would mix it into a glass of Coca-Cola.
“All of a sudden,” Stag recalls in the book, “Michael would announce, ‘I’m ready now. Let’s go and have sex.’”
“’George was mad on G,’ Stag told the Sun years later,” the book notes. “’He was incredibly sexually active, and in his mind drugs equaled sex and sex equaled drugs.’”
In February 2006, the singer was found slumped in his Mercedes — which was stalled diagonally across a traffic lane less than two miles from his Regent’s Park home. When police banged on the window, Michael opened the door, “semiconscious and mumbling.”
A search revealed marijuana and GHB in his possession. A source told the Daily Mirror that officers also discovered sex toys including “a studded black leather fetish mask with headlight eyes and a zipper mouth.”
By 2014, the I Want Your Sex singer was plagued by panic attacks and bloated from overeating. On May 30, an unidentified person found him unconscious in his bathtub in Highgate. It was a GHB overdose—and not his first.
Friends begged the performer to enter rehab; “ultimately a psychiatrist talked him into it,” according to the book.
The place selected was the Kusnacht Practice, in Zurich, Gavin writes, “which was the addict’s equivalent of a five-star continental resort … costing $130,000 upward per week.”
Michael ended up staying in Switzerland for the better part of a year, a detour that cost him an “estimated 1.5 million pounds.”
He returned home in mid-2016 and “old clothes returned.”
GHB made him crave fatty food and the resultant weight gain caused liver disease. Michael was found dead at age 53 on Christmas Day 2016 at his home northwest of London. The cause was heart disease — dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis — and a fatty liver.
This story originally appeared on Page Six and is republished here with permission.