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The pop singer George Michael reveals today how years of hiding his homosexuality from the public took a deep psychological toll – but he did it so his mother wouldn't have to worry about Aids.

Speaking on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, the songwriter, who has sold more than 100 million records and is the most played artist on British radio, gives an unusually candid interview, during which he discusses drug-taking, his sexuality, the price of fame and the death of his first lover.

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"So firstly, understand how much I love my family and that Aids was the predominant feature of being gay in the 1980s and early 90s as far as any parent was concerned... I don't think I would have the same career – my ego might not have been satisfied in some areas – but I think I would have been a happier man." He adds that he came out to some people, including one of his two sisters, when he was 19, but friends advised him not to tell his parents. I was too immature to know I was sacrificing as much as I was," he says.

My mother was still alive and every single day would have been a nightmare for her thinking what I might have been subjected to. He also talks about his community service following his recent conviction for driving while under the influence of sleeping pills, which has seen him work with mentally ill and homeless people.

And he discusses the deep depression he suffered when his lover, Anselmo Feleppa, and his mother died within a few years of each other, his partner from an Aids-related illness.

His mother, Lesley, died in 1997 and his lover in 1993.

Michael also talks about his early career, claiming that a bang on the head when he was eight led to an obsession with music.

He adds that he "resents" the success of his career which "never seems to suffer". I was supremely confident I was writing pop classics but I was also supremely aware that if I left the imagery a little bit more to Andrew, kids loved it.

"I never had any feeling that my talent was going to let me down. I suffer around it – bereavement, public humiliations – but my career just seems to right itself like a duck in the bath." Michael explains that when he had his first hit with Andrew Ridgeley as Wham! Then we were massively successful and I went from being Andrew's shadow as a sexually confident being to being the centre of attention. I suddenly felt like a fake, so the whole thing turned me into somebody who felt the camera was my enemy." Among his musical selections are Amy Winehouse, Nirvana and Rufus Wainwright. And I looked up to Andrew [Ridgeley] because he oozed confidence from every pore ...

at the age of 18, it was wonderful for a time, but the experience of fame quickly soured. Of Wainwright's "Going to a Town", he says: "It really lays into the Bush administration, talking about America soaking the body of Jesus Christ in blood. on his mother I struggled with huge depression after my mother died.

Fantastic lyrics." No holding back: George speaks out... Losing your mother and your lover in the space of three years is a tough one ... on his career In a strange way I've spent the last 10 or 15 years trying to derail my own career because it never seems to suffer. on Nirvana 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' is the best-produced record in the history of rock.

on Amy Winehouse The best female vocalist I've heard in my entire career.

1996 - Present Performer George Michael has been in a relationship with businessman Kenny Goss since 1996.

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