George Michael blames Elton John for reports of demise

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The Independent Online

George Michael is to go on tour for the first time in 15 years - and has dismissed criticism that his lifestyle is threatening his career.

The singer, who rose to fame 25 years ago as one half of pop duo Wham!, told ITV's Parkinson programme that, far from being "miserable and sad", his career is back on track.

In his interview with Michael Parkinson, due to be broadcast on ITV1 at 10.15pm tomorrow, Michael blamed Elton John, as well as homophobia, for reports that he is unhappy.

Michael said: "The trajectory of my particular soap opera launched from that statement Elton made about 18 months ago when Elton hadn't seen me for years. The subtext to it is he was all right before he came out and now he lives this depraved gay life and he's miserable and fat ... Elton said he thought I was really miserable for some reason. From that point on, I've been trying to prove that I'm not."

The 42-year-old singer is due to be questioned by police again after his Range Rover collided with three parked cars in Highgate, north London, early on Sunday. But he insisted that the accident was no more than a "parking incident" caused by his car hitting the vehicle in front when he took the handbrake off on a steep hill. He denied allegations that he failed to report the incident.

"I thought I'd hit one car," Michael said. "The papers say I rushed away and didn't tell anybody, which is rubbish. By the time I'd sent somebody to get details of what I thought was one incident, the Daily Mail was already there and, from that point, it just escalated.

"I had people frantically calling my house to find out whether I was in hospital and I literally just had a parking accident."

In a separate incident in February, Michael was questioned by police after being found asleep at the wheel of a car. The pop star played down the incident and added: "Are we really going to say that's dramatic?" when Parkinson put it to him that he had been smoking cannabis.

"I don't know how it happened. I guess it was momentary. I was at the lights with my foot still on the brake and I must have nodded off ... of course they [the police] had to check out whether I was fit to drive because I was asleep," he said.

Michael is to play a series of 50 concert dates, kicking off in Spain in September and ending in the UK in December, where he will perform at Wembley Arena. It is almost 18 years since he sang his own songs live. Michael said that, if he enjoyed the tour, he would do a stadium tour next summer.

Michael has faced his publicity crises head-on. After he was arrested for lewd conduct in Beverly Hills in 1998, having exposed himself to an undercover policeman in a public lavatory, he came out as gay and released a single "Outside".

The lyrics included the lines: "I think I'm done with the sofa / I think I'm done with the hall / I think I'm done with the kitchen table, baby / Let's go outside / In the sunshine."

In February, following his arrest for possession of class C drugs, he quickly admitted he had been a "bloody idiot", explaining: "It's my own stupid fault, as usual... I promise I won't make a record out of this one - even though it is tempting."

He also told Parkinson that he would marry his long-term partner, Kenny Goss, this year on their 10th anniversary, to give them the same legal protection as heterosexual couples.