R.I.P. George Michael. I think you’re amazing.

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A few huge posters adorned my bedroom wall as a schoolgirl – I mentioned one of them in a blog post just the other month, in fact – but I’m not sure I gazed adoringly at any of them as much as the one pictured above.

(Full disclosure: the photo above isn’t of the actual specific poster I owned, but that of an identical one which somebody is currently selling on eBay. I am now, of course, sorely tempted to bid on it, US postage costs be damned.)

Fantastic by Wham! – debut album titles don’t get much better than that, do they? – was one of the first Proper Pop Albums I ever owned, and throughout my childhood (I was 12 when Fantastic came out), I was most definitely a Whammy rather than a Durany. And who could blame me? What was not to love about these two beautiful men with their beautiful hair, beautiful grins, beautiful tans and beautiful day-glo fingerless gloves? Nothing. Especially when you’re an 12 year-old-girl.

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Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

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As a child, I was utterly terrified by Michael Jackson’s Thriller. So terrified that even putting that picture above these words now, at the age of 45, causes a slight shiver of anxiety. I was also confused: surely a ‘thriller’ was an exciting, dramatic film? I didn’t understand why Michael Jackson was singing about movies like that while dancing with zombies.  Surely he should have been calling it Video Nasty?

But I did appreciate the musical delights of Thriller – and also the tiger cub he was stroking when you opened the gatefold sleeve (my sister, older than I and therefore with more sophisticated tastes, bought the album. In 1982, I was all about Bucks Fizz and  The Kids From Fame. My sophistication would not come until 1986, when a month’s pocket money would pay for Janet Jackson’s Control).

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Now That’s What I Call Music 1925!

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An American woman teaches English boys the Charleston in 1925 (according to Reddit)

I think everyone has one family member who most influenced their music tastes. A parent, perhaps, or an older sibling, or an aunt or uncle. (Obviously, I hope to be that person for my niece and nephews. “Mummmm! Auntie Andie’s made me ANOTHER Bruce Springsteen playlist!”) But while I have to thank my older sister for playing lots of The Police, my older brother for playing Rainbow’s Since You’ve Been Gone, and my parents for introducing me to classical music and MGM musicals (and even, in a surprisingly hip move from them, Dave Brubeck), it was my Uncle Den who introduced me to jazz.

Uncle Den turns 90 this week. If you get a telegram from the Queen when you turn 100, I wonder what you get when you turn 90? An email from Prince Philip? A Facebook poke from Prince Harry? Something, surely. Even a postcard from Sophie Of Whatsist wouldn’t go amiss.

Den lives in Bristol – and one of my strongest childhood memories is being at his and my Auntie Kay’s house for Sunday lunch. Every so often, on a Sunday, my family would pack into the car and drive down to Bristol from the West Midlands (and being six of us, we really did pack into it: I spent many journeys sitting in the footwell behind the front passenger seat. Apparently this was acceptable in-car safety in the 1970s). And one of my strongest memories of this experience – even stronger than the memory of looking up at motorway lights from the footwell of a Marina – was the music that Uncle Den played.

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