George Michael‘s music video for “Freedom ’90” is likely one of his most iconic — and he doesn’t even appear in it.
In a personal essay tribute to the British pop star published on news.com.au, his old friend Rebecca Davies — who spent a lot of time with Michael while she was dating the musician’s childhood pal David Austin — recalled what sparked the idea for the groundbreaking video.
Davies was working as model booker when she was having dinner at Michael’s apartment in London and had brought a copy of Vogue with five supermodels — Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Tatjana Patitz — shot by Peter Lindberg on the cover. Michael had just written “Freedom ’90” and upon seeing the magazine, began brainstorming ways to have the women in the song’s music video.
“George suddenly said it would be fantastic to have them lip synch the lyrics,” Davies wrote. “We all work-shopped how hard it would be to get it perfect or it would look like a badly dubbed foreign film.”
The next day, the singer tasked Davies with booking the models for a music video shoot — despite it being Paris Fashion Week and the top models having packed schedules.
“He wasn’t one to take no for an answer so I left lunch with mission impossible to secure the booking,” Davies said.
The next few days were full of negotiations and eventually it was settled that each model would receive $10,000 for a half day’s work on the video — an unheard-of pay for the time.
The models were brought in over three days to be in the David Fincher–directed video. Although Davies said each performed exquisitely, Michael was set on making sure their lip-syncing skills were up to par. He even asked Crawford to do a practice round before shooting.
“To this day I remember being nervous for her,” Davies wrote. “She might have been the most famous model in the world but the poor thing had to sing the lyrics to the rock star who wrote and performed them.”
Throughout the shoot, Michael was always on set and a source of encouragement to his pal.
“I had never done anything quite so momentous and it was scary for me, but he was wonderful and a true friend,” she said. “He never stopped telling me what a brilliant job I was doing.”
They celebrated the wrap of the video with an excessive amount of champagne, until Michael suggested the drunk pair head home.
“We wrapped our arms around each other to steady ourselves and off we went,” Davies recalled. “I had just shared an experience that has stayed with me for almost thirty years.”
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When Davies and her boyfriend eventually broke up, she said Michael was the first person to check in on her — “That’s what he was like,” she said.
Although they didn’t remain close, they did contact each other throughout the years. Davies says she reached out following his mother’s death, and they caught up when he was in Australia.
“He was the friend who gave a young girl the opportunity of a lifetime and he will be missed,” she said. “I have shed a tear for the beautiful person he was but I will always have the memories.”
What is your favorite George Michael Music video? Share below.
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