pepsi & shirlie

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Pepsi & Shirlie

They sang with Wham! and launched a successful career on their own, but where are Pepsi and Shirlie now…is it giving you a heartache?

Two friends – Helen ‘Pepsi’ DeMacque (born 1958) and Shirlie Holliman (born 1962) – together they were the biggest selling backing vocalists of the 1980’s. Shirlie’s original partner Dee C. Lee (born 1961) left the partnership to join The Style Council and would eventaully marry lead singer Paul Weller. They met Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou and Andrew Ridgley in late 1981 and formed the group Wham! The girls provided backing vocals on their first single “Young Guns (Go For It)” in October 1982, reaching No.3 in the UK.

They continued their ‘partnership’ with the boys on the single “Club Tropicana” the following July, which reached No.4 in the UK and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in May 1984 which topped the UK chart as well as in eleven other countries worldwide.

More success came with “Freedom” in August 1984 (UK No.1, US No.3) and “Last Christmas” in December 1984, the biggest selling No.2 record in British chart history.

By 1985 Panayiotou (George Michael) was recording material for himself and it seemed the group was coming to an end, despite more continued success as a duo with global hits from “I’m Your Man” to “The Edge Of Heaven”.

1986 would see the group finish and Michael begin recording for his debut album “Faith” (1987) . But what of Pepsi and Shirlie? On 5th January 1987 they released their debut single as an independent duo, “Heartache”. The song became a huge hit across the world reaching the top ten in more than a dozen countries including the UK where it made No.2. It also charted in the US where it made No.2 on the dance chart and No.78 on the singles chart.

This was followed by “Goodbye Stranger” which followed “Heartache” into the UK top ten as well as in Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium. Their debut album “All Right Now” was released in the Summer of 1987 and made No.69 in the UK and No.133 in the US.

The hits dried up after that, with subsequent releases “Can’t Give Me Love” and the title track of the album failing to reach the top 40 in the UK. They returned in 1989 with new singles “What’s Going On Inside Your Head?” and “Who’s Gonna Catch You (When You Fall)?” which charted in the lower depths of the singles chart across Europe and beyond. In 1991 George Michael produced the lead single from their second studio album “Change”, “Someday” which stalled at No.46 in the UK.

‘Pepsi’ married and has lived in such glamourous locations as St. Lucia, New Zealand and Norwich(!) Her nephew Cesar Sampson represented Austria in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Shirlie married Spandau Ballet guitarist and singer Martin Kemp. They have two children, with Mum and daughter Harley appearing in the video for The Spice Girls hit single “Mama”.

Pepsi and Shirlie reunited in 2000 to provide backing vocals on Spice Girl Geri Halliwell’s No.1 hit “Bag It Up”. They also toured the UK in 2011 as part of the hugely successful Here And Now annual summer gigs bringing back many of the most successful and best loved acts from the 1980’s.

They took to the stage once more in February 2017, along with Andrew Ridgley, at the Brit Awards to pay an emotional tribute to George Michael, who had been found dead on Christmas day 2016.

Pepsi Shirley Andrew 2017

Take a look at all our other Where Are They Now posts and don’t forget to follow the playlist!

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!

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