British singer George Michael found his fame so overwhelming when it was at its peak, he constantly wore sunglasses - even to bed.

The former Wham! frontman, who has re-emerged after a long absence with his new album PATIENCE, wants his fans to know that it was his high level of fame which pushed him out of the spotlight - not his 1998 arrest for a lewd public act.

He says, "The easiest way to pinpoint (when it became overwhelming) is Frank Sinatra's open letter to the LOS ANGELES TIMES in the early '90s because I had decided that the level fame that I achieved at 24/25 with Faith, was kinda too much for me.

"Fame in (America) as a solo artist is a big deal. And that level of fame... I had the number one album for two Christmases in a row. I think I walked around in the aviators all day, every day. I think I slept in them for a year 'cause I was so freaked at the amount of attention that was being pointed directly at me.

"So I did make an effort to step back and I said I was gonna stop promoting, stop touring, stop really being present for a while because I was really quite freaked out. I think people need to remember that. I didn't disappear in 1998 with the arrest, I kinda disappeared in 1991 after the big hit single with ELTON (JOHN)."

15/06/2004 17:14