Four Shows And A Siesta

Four shows into his first tour in 15 years, George Michael was arrested October 1st when he was found taking a siesta at traffic lights, reportedly slumped over the steering wheel of his Mercedes.

It’s the third time this year he’s been caught asleep at the wheel, and the second time it’s led to a caution for possessing cannabis.

The earlier caution came in February, when Michael was found slumped in a car off London’s busy Hyde Park Corner.

In April, he called the police to admit that he was the driver in a bizarre, four-car crash near his home.

According to reports in The Daily Mirror and The Daily Star, the singer phoned to say he’d been behind the wheel when his £60,000 Range Rover Vogue hit three parked cars at 8 a.m. the previous day.

Witnesses were quoted saying they heard a bang and saw 42-year-old Michael sitting behind the wheel and staring out of his window at the damage he’d done to a Ford Fiesta.

This time, his October 1st 3 a.m. arrest made the front page of The Sun, which showed a picture of a car said to be Michael’s Mercedes and ran a headline that said, “George in 999 dope dash.”

The paper says the police were called because Michael’s car was partly blocking the junction of Cricklewood Lane with Hendon Way, North West London.

Michael was reportedly taken to Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead and was then booked at Colindale police station under his real name – Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.

He was also arrested on suspicion of being unfit to drive under the influence of drugs and released on police bail in the afternoon. He’s due to return November 20 – a week after his tour ends with four Wembley Arena shows – when he’ll be told whether he’ll face charges.

Michael was sufficiently rested up to play his next scheduled show at France’s Lyon Tony Garnier Arena October 2nd.

His tour, organized by Barrie Marshall’s Marshall Arts, is doing good business all around Europe. It kicked off with two Gay Mercader-promoted sellout shows at the 17,500-capacity Barcelona Palau Sant Jordi September 23rd and a 14,500-capacity Palacio De Deportes in Madrid September 26th.

The whole tour has been selling out quickly. Its 15 U.K. shows, which are spread across Birmingham’s NEC Arena, Manchester’s MEN Arena, Glasgow’s SECC and London’s Earls Court and Wembley Arena, shifted nearly 250,000 tickets in two hours.

In Norway, the Oslo show at the 10,000-capacity Spektrum sold out in 90 minutes. Copenhagen’s 49,000-capacity Parken went clean in three hours. The first of three concerts at Rotterdam’s 11,000-capacity Ahoy Arena sold out in six minutes. The second and third shows took 16 minutes apiece.

The tour is called 25 Live, celebrating the number of years that Michael has spent at the top. Apart from the fuss caused by repeatedly falling asleep at the wheel of his car, his career has been marked with controversy.

In April 1998, he was arrested for “engaging in a lewd act” in a public toilet in Los Angeles, after which he ended years of speculation over his sexuality by announcing that he was gay.

– John Gammon