930 Club owner recalls thrill of booking George Michael’s first US show

WASHINGTON – Almost 30 years ago, 930 Club co-owner Seth Hurwitz was already a big deal in the music world, but he had no idea he was about to play a role in the career of one of music’s most popular stars, George Michael.

Michael died Christmas Day of heart failure at age 53.

Hurwitz booked Michael to play his first two U.S. solo shows for his “Faith” album, at the long-gone Capital Centre, in Landover, Maryland, on August 6-7, 1988.

“Back then we were doing indie, alternative, punk rock stuff,” Hurwitz told WTOP. “We were building acts like REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Smashing Pumpkins.”

At the time, Hurwitz and I.M.P. Productions partner Richard Heinecke had been developing relationships with bands and managers at the original 930 Club on F St. NW, with the intention of parlaying them into shows at larger venues.

“That was what we worked toward – some day we would do an arena show,” said Hurwitz. “Then, all of a sudden, George Michael comes along.”

“George Michael didn’t have any history, because he’d never done a [solo] tour,” said Hurwitz. “He was instantly a mega star.”

Luckily for Hurwitz, Michael “happened to be represented by someone we dealt with on [other shows], so they said, ‘Here, you do it.’”

Based on I.M.P’s working relationship with the promoter, “all of a sudden we were just handed this giant arena show,” Hurwitz said.

Michael had top-selling U.S. hits with Wham! — including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Careless Whisper” — before launching his solo career.

The two shows at the Capital Centre were the first shows on the North America leg of Michael’s tour to support “Faith,” which made Michael the top-selling artist of 1988, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

“I think we did a rehearsal the day before the gig, and I suggested to his manager, ‘Do you think he would like to have dinner?’ And the manager called back and said, ‘Yeah, actually he’d love that, “ recalled Hurwitz. “We had a table at the Tabard Inn with our group, and sure enough, George Michael walks in.”

Hurwitz remembers Michael “was super cool to everyone.”

With Michael’s death, Hurwitz observes many people on social media are expressing similar positive thoughts about the superstar.

“People are writing memories and fond things about him from all walks of life, and people with all kinds of taste,” said Hurwitz.

“It was truly an honor to be a part of his career, and very exciting, and was one of the many ‘pinch me’ moments that we’ve had in our long history,” said Hurwitz. “I’m very sad to see him go.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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