George Michael – The Pop Superstar
The pop singer was born in London, in 1963, as Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou. He became famous as part of the pop duo Wham! and later on proceeded to have a highly successful career as a solo artist. Michael’s debut solo, Faith (1987), sold over 20 million copies, and he soon became an admired teen idol. His impressive solo career has made him one of the best-selling British artists of all time, and won him numerous music awards during his lifetime. Perhaps the most significant controversy surrounding Michael revolved around the surprising discovery of his homosexuality, leaving millions of teenage girls heartbroken. As his talents exceeded his fantastic singing abilities, he also wrote and produced many of his songs. Michael made sure to use his musical gift for political purposes as well as artistic ones, and contributed high portions of his fortune to charity. He will definitely be missed.
Leonard Cohen – The Sensitive Artist
Judging by Leonard Norman Cohen’s pedigree, he should have come out a Rabbi. Born in Canada in 1934, Cohen was the grandson of a Rabbi on his mother’s side, and the grandson of the founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress on his father’s side. We can only imagine his parents dismay, when the young Jewish lad turned out to be an international top-selling music artist instead of a respected religious persona – tough luck, indeed. But Cohen’s road to fame was not as easy or quick as one might’ve imagined: he only began his musical path at the ripe age of 33, after dabbling in prose and poetry in the 50’s and the early 60’s. Disappointed from his lack of financial success, he turned to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. Who would have thought that what was originally thought of as a plan B, would become such a roaring, worldwide success? Guess we can all thank karma for allowing us the pleasure of being exposed to Cohen’s remarkable repertoire of musical creation.
David Bowie – The Popular Outsider
Born in 1947 in London, England, as David Robert Jones, the Legendary British Pop Icon is a proof that even remarkable talents sometimes take time to be recognized, and that numerous rejections shouldn’t keep a true artist from trying again. And again. Even though he started his musical career at the early age of 15, Bowie had managed to release at least 5 failed singles and get rejected for a Kit Kat commercial before his music received any appropriate attention. His real breakthrough arrived almost a decade later, with the release of his hit single “Space Oddity,” and continued to evolve with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). Bowie’s flamboyant appearance became one of his main symbols, making him stand out as a unique phenomenon. Bowie was never the obvious choice to be accepted to mainstream culture, but his genre-crossing talent exceeded his weirdness. Eventually, Bowie became one of the best-selling music artists of all times, and was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
Zsa Zsa Gabor – The Glamorous Socialite
Born in Hungary as Sári Gábor, this glamorous lady sure knew how to get by in life using her irresistible charms as her main asset. Married 9 times and divorced 7 times (one was annulled), Gabor appeared to have made marriage a legitimate career path. However, the socialite started her actual career when she was titled Miss Hungary in 1936. Being of a Jewish descent, she and her family fled to the United States in 1941, before the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Hungary. She quickly started winning acting roles, the first of which was a supporting role in the movie Lovely to Look At (1952). Gabor may have been an actress and a stage persona in her professional definition, but was known primarily for her status as a dazzling socialite. In the earlier years of Hollywood, both her and her two sisters, Magda and Eva, were often described as an extraordinary social phenomenon. Let’s just put it that way: the Kardashian sisters have nothing on these three ladies.
Prince – The Eternal Chameleon
You may not believe it, but Prince’s real name was actually… Prince. Prince Rogers Nelson was born in 1958, and started his career at the early age of 18 with his debut album For You (1978). The Minneapolis-born singer didn’t take long to achieve stardom. His second album, Prince (1979) immediately went platinum, and all the rest pretty much followed suit, continuing his remarkable musical success. Ever since he started, Prince has always been a sort of musical Chameleon – constantly switching and mixing musical genres, changing looks and basically rebranding and reinventing himself to no end. Among the different musical styles present in his songs, one could find soul, funk, R&B, psychedelia, new wave and pop. Prince was also noted for his flamboyant appearance and style, and would often go on stage wearing high heels. He became one of the best-selling artists of all times, with more than 100 million records.
Muhammad Ali – The Legendary Fighter
Born in Kentucky, in 1942, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Muhammad Ali was more than just a superstar boxer. Ali began his boxing training at the impressive age of 12. In 1960, being only 18, he won his first gold medal in the Summer Olympics, competing in the light heavyweight category. The prominent American athlete was considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all times, having participated in a few seminal boxing fights, and having been the only boxer to win the lineal heavyweight championship 3 times. But, other than being a legendary boxer, Ali was also a major social activist. He refused to fight in the Vietnam war, citing ideological and religious objections – a refusal which cost him in getting arrested. He was also known for his controversial, at times rhymed, public speeches; and for his religious and charitable work, to which he devoted his life after his retirement from boxing.