Pepsi and Shirlie – Heartache
In England, 1987 musically opened with an announced surprise. On January 5, two girls who knew the musical environment from the inside released the first single, and of course they were well known by all fans. Pepsi and Shirlie were famous as added vocalists for Wham!. In particular, Shirlie Holliman had a long time friendship with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley since school days, and the three of them had been sharing their time together for years. Andrew was also Shirlie’s boyfriend for a few years, and George was a great leader and organizer for their entire company of friends.
Until the days of “Club Tropicana“, that is, until 1983, Wham’s vocalists were Shirlie and Dee C. Lee (Diane Sealy, whose family name sounds like her alias), who then decided to leave the Wham! to join Paul Weller’s Style Council. The two married a few years later and soon divorced. Pepsi (Helen DeMacque) then took over from Dee C. Lee, and despite being external to the friendship of George, Andrew and Shirlie, she proved absolutely perfect for the role.
Pepsi and Shirlie (who in the meantime had become engaged to Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp, still her husband) originally had no solo plans. The alchemy with George and Andrew was great, and had led the girls to live a real dream. But over the course of 1985, as we know, George Michael made up his mind that his future would be a solo career, and so the whole group started the path to farewell, starting with Live Aid, where George and Andrew did not sing together, continuing with George’s first solo experiences as “A different corner“, and culminating with the great fireworks that Wham! had planned: the release of the album “The final” and their huge last concert on June 28, 1986 at Wembley.
At this point Pepsi and Shirlie, who were highly respected, had the opportunity to continue their careers without even changing their stage names. “Heartache” was born from this experience. It is generally referred to as one of the songs produced by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, but this is not correct: the three producers actually mixed the song, but the production was entrusted to Tambi Fernando, another great name in the recording industry. Moreover, the album “All right now” saw the collaboration of four different producers for the various songs.
“Heartache” was a success, and even reached number two on the UK charts just weeks after the beginning of 1987. Of course fate put its hand in it, and there was only one person who could prevent Pepsi and Shirlie from reaching the first position. We’re obviously talking about George Michael, who had just launched “I knew you were waiting (for me)” with Aretha Franklin. And Shirlie, as she commented in an interview, didn’t know whether to be happier with George Michael’s success, or be more angry because her best friend had taken away the satisfaction for the first-place.
Pepsi and Shirlie’s career slowed down after a few years, mainly because Shirlie, after a fabulous decade, chose a different life, as a wife and family mother, although she still loves to participate in reunions, shows and broadcasts. Of course, Pepsi and Shirlie never got out of the loving memories of 80s dinosaurs.
Pepsi and Shirlie on Wikipedia