The entertainment world was rocked by some sad news this Christmas. English singer-songwriter George Michael, who rose to fame in the 1980s as part of the duo Wham! before embarking on a successful solo career, passed away at age 53. According to his longtime manager Michael Lippman, the singer died of heart failure "in bed, lying peacefully."
Michael was known for such hits as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Last Christmas," "Careless Whisper," and "Freedom '90." He was also a devoted advocate for LGBT rights and AIDS awareness. Tributes to Michael poured in on social media following news of his death, as his famous friends and admirers reacted with sadness and respect.
Another celebrity who took a moment to remember the singer was was fellow Brit and Late Late Show host James Corden. What many people may not know is that Corden's ever-popular Carpool Karaoke segment actually originated with George Michael back in 2011. Corden played his Gavin and Stacey character Smithy for a sketch in Comic Relief's Red Nose Day special. He and Michael drove around wearing matching tracksuits and singing along to the Wham! song "I'm Your Man."
Corden explained the origins of the sketch to Stephen Colbert earlier this year. "My original idea was to pick George Michael up from prison in a car," he said. "And then we realized, 'Maybe we'll lose the prison, but what if there's still some fun for me and George to be in the car and we'll sing some Wham! songs?'"
Around the same time, the talk show host told Howard Stern, "We couldn't put our finger on why is this so joyful? There's a joy in here. We couldn't really work out why." These days, Corden recreates that joy on a regular basis with his celebrity guests, and you could say he has George Michael to thank for that.