Frank Sinatra once wrote to George Michael at the height of his fame, telling him to 'loosen up'


By September 1990, George Michael was at the top of the pop charts following the release of his sophomore solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, but the singer was struggling with fame.

Read: George Michael's Boyfriend Gives Touching Farewell: 'I Will Never Stop Missing You'

As a new decade dawned, the former Wham! singer was trying to reinvent himself as an artist and as someone who wanted his music to speak for itself rather than promoting it. The "Heal the Pain" singer was in a bitter dispute with his label, Columbia/Epic because he did not want to promote the album and wanted to shun the public eye.

As his fame climbed, he pushed the world away, but got a letter of encouragement from a very unlikely source – legendary singer Frank Sinatra.

Michael told the Los Angeles Times in 1990 around the time the record came out: "I'm not stupid enough to think that I can deal with another 10 or 15 years of major exposure. I think that is the ultimate tragedy of fame... People who are simply out of control, who are lost. I've seen so many of them, and I don't want to be another cliche."

See photos of George Michael throughout his life:

17 PHOTOS
George Michael through the years
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George Michael through the years
UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 01: LYCEUM Photo of George MICHAEL and WHAM!, George Michael (Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns)
Wham 1985 George Michael and Andrew Ridgely (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)
Wham Concert In London, Britain - 1985, George Michael And Andrew Ridgeley (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
CHINA - 1985/04/07: Young children sporting 'Mao' jackets and caps gape at George Michael (left) and Andrew Ridgeley, of the pop group Wham who are visiting the Great Wall as they promote the first-ever gig by a Western pop band in communist China. Wham played a concert at Beijing's People's Stadium, thereby becoming a milestone not only in pop but also in Chinese history, even if most Chinese hadn't a clue who they were and even fewer actually got to see them in action.. (Photo by Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 27: George Michael of Wham! performs on stage at the National Exhibition Centre, on February 27th, 1985 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Peter Still/Redferns)
Pop star George Michael attends the British Record Industry Awards, aka the BRIT Awards, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on February 11, 1985. (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
British singer-songwriter George Michael of Wham!, during the pop duo's 1985 world tour, January 1985.'The Big Tour' took in the UK, Japan, Australia, China and the US. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
George Michael of Wham!, portrait, Sydney, Australia, January 1985. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of George MICHAEL (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)
Michael Lipman, Tommy Mottola, George Michael and Rob Kahane (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of George MICHAEL (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)
George Michael Attends A Gianni Versace Book Launch Party At His Store In London'S Bond Street. . (Photo by Antony Jones/Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - AUGUST 03: Singer George Michael performs at the Bank Atlantic Center on August 3, 2008 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Logan Fazio/Getty Images)
British singer George Michael performs on stage during a charity gala for the benefit of Sidaction, at the Opera Garnier in Paris, on September 9, 2012. Sidaction is a charity event which aims to collect money for the struggle against AIDS virus. AFP PHOTO MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/GettyImages)
British singer George Michael performs during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in London on August 12, 2012. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)
FILE PHOTO British singer George Michael poses for photographers before a news conference at the Royal Opera House in central London May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo
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As Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 debuted at the No. 2 position on the Billboard album chart and the album's lead single, "Praying for Time," spent two months atop the singles charts, "Old Blue Eyes" learned about the English musician's struggle with the spotlight through the Times interview and wrote to him.

"Come on, George," Sinatra wrote. "Loosen up. Swing, man. Dust off those gossamer wings and fly yourself to the moon of your choice and be grateful to carry the baggage we've all had to carry since those lean nights of sleeping on buses and helping the driver unload the instruments."

At the time, Michael did not want to go on MTV to promote his work. He refused to star in music videos, which also ended up furthering his fame as then-rising director David Fincher directed a bevy of models — including Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford — in the "Freedom '90" video.

The video would later be hailed as one of the best ever made.

Sinatra, then in his mid-70s, added: "The tragedy of fame is when no one shows up and you're singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint that hasn't seen a paying customer since Saint Swithin's day. And you're nowhere near that; you're top dog on the top rung of a tall ladder called Stardom, which in Latin means thanks-to-the-fans who were there when it was lonely."

The letter appeared in the Los Angeles Times shortly after it was written and is currently published by the online museum Letters of Note.

See photos of Frank Sinatra throughout his life:

16 PHOTOS
Frank Sinatra through the years
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Frank Sinatra through the years
CIRCA 1922: Pop singer Frank Sinatra poses for a portrait wearing a hat in circa 1922. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
BERGEN COUNTY, NJ - 1938: Pop singer Frank Sinatra poses for a mug shot after being arrested and charged with 'carrying on with a married woman' in 1938 in Bergen County, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
American singer and actor Frank Sinatra (1915 - 1998) (R) performs with musician and bandleader Tommy Dorsey (1905 -1956) (L), who conducts the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, c. 1941. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American singer and actor Frank Sinatra (1915 - 1998) stands on a ladder as he signs autographs for a crowd of fans, Los Angeles, California, 1943. (Photo by Gene Lester/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1945: American singer and actor Frank Sinatra (1915 - 1998) smiles in front of a vintage CBS radio microphone in circa 1945. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
BRONX, NY - 1949: Crooner Frank Sinatra and Phil Rizzuto of the New York Yankees share a laugh in the Yankee dugout at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. Sinatra was attending as part of the preparation for a role as a baseball player in the upcoming film, 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame'. (Photo by Kidwiler Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: Photo of Frank SINATRA; with Axel Stordahl at the Liederkrantz Hall, New York (Photo by William Gottlieb/Redferns)
Popular American entertainer Frank Sinatra (1915 - 1998) (right) laughs as comedian Red Skelton (born Richard Bernard Skelton, 1913 - 1997) clowns around during a segement of an episode of the television variety show 'Toast of the Town,' New York, New York, August 12, 1956. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
2nd June 1958: American singer and film actor Frank Sinatra (1915 - 1998) arriving at London Airport, after flying in from New York to spend a holiday in England before going on to Paris. (Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
27th April 1962: American actor and singer Frank Sinatra singing to crowds during a charity concert in Hibiya Park, Tokyo. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
OCTOBER 2: Singer Frank Sinatra and bandleader Count Basie record in the studio on October 2, 1963. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1965: Entertainer Frank Sinatra shaving his face in a mirror. (Photo by John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
American singer and actor Frank Sinatra checks the script during the making of 'The Lady In Cement' in Miami, 1968. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Getty Images)
Frank Sinatra and Barbara Marx. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Episode 11/14/1977 --Pictured: (l-r) Actor/comedian Don Rickles, guest host Frank Sinatra on Novemeber 14, 1977 (Photo by Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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Read: Stars Pay Tribute to George Michael After His Death at 53: 'He Was an Absolute Inspiration'

The New Jersey-born singer, like Michael, knew the highs and lows of celebrity and tried to warn the British pop star that he should be careful what he wishes for.

Sinatra died in 1998 of a heart attack at 82.

The "Faith" singer is believed to have died from heart failure in his home in Oxfordshire, England, on Christmas Day.

Despite the success of Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1., he and his label never put out its follow-up, Vol. 2, which was slated to hit stores in June 1991. The record has never been released.

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