Was George Michael’s “Father Figure” Accidentally a Slow Tempo Song?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the music urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: George Michael’s “Father Figure” accidentally became a slow tempo song.

After having great success with the pop duo Wham!, George Michael decided to go out on his own, and after spending most of 1987 writing and recording, he finally debuted his much-anticipated solo album, titled Faith.

After three #1 singles with Wham! and one #1 single in a duet with Aretha Franklin, George Michael finally reached #1 on the Billboard charts with one of his solo efforts with the third single off of Faith, the title track, “Faith” (the first single off of the album, “I Want Your Sex” DID make it to #2).

The fourth single, and the second straight one to go to #1 was “Father Figure.”

The song is a slow, almost haunting tune dealing with a perhaps inappropriate romantic relationship between two people, where the narrator wants to be a sort of teacher to the younger part of the relationship – he will be the “Father Figure.” It’s honestly a bit of an odd song.

In any event, as it turned out, the haunting quality of the song came about purely by accident!

George Michael related the story to Fred Bronson:

The initial concept was completely different from the way the song turned out. In fact, the intial concept for “Father Figure’ was to make it a kind of mid-tempo dance track. And what happened was I wanted to hear something in my mix so I happened to cut out the snare on the board and suddenly it changed the whole entire mood of the track. Suddenly it just seemed really dreamy. And this was halfway through writing it – because I was writing the song as I was going along in the studio. And I just thought, well, hey, this is actually much better! So I worked the rest of the feel of the track around this kind of spacey type sound. And it ended up, in my mind, being the most original sounding thing on the album.

Fascinating.

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Thanks to Fred Bronson’s awesome book, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits for the quote!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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