Local George Michael impersonator remembers star

- Celebrities and fans around the world continue to remember the life and legacy of pop singer George Michael.

Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, died on Sunday at the age of 53.

Michael's passing is especially hard for Clayton McKee. The Valley man has been a fan and impersonator of Michael for years.

"I remember laying on the floor at my home at 13, and wondering, 'what is this? I'd never seen anything like it. I'd never heard anything like it,'" said McKee, recounting the first time he heard the song Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.

Michael sang that song with Andrew Ridgeley, as a part of the musical duo Wham!

McKee said he became a fan of Michael after he heard that song, but years later, McKee took his fandom to a whole new level.

"A girl, when I was in Junior High School, said, 'You know, you kind of look like him,'" McKee recounted. "I'd never really thought about it, and so, all of a sudden, I thought there was this avenue to popularity and stardom in High School, because of it."

McKee then began to emulate Michael - from the hair to the iconic cross earrings, to the glasses. Over the years, McKee said he has impersonated George Michael for a number of fundraisers, and said he was the go-to person for local radio station KEZ (99.9FM) whenever they did a promotional event.

McKee said news of Michael's passing was difficult.

"It's emotional, it really is," said McKee. "It's interesting to be connected to somebody that you don't know, but has had such an influence on your life in many ways from a young age. It's nuts to have this just kick you."

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