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George Michael wrote an R&B song about John Lennon and Elvis Presley. The tune uses the deaths of John and Elvis to ask a question about God. While that might sound odd, it’s the inevitable result of the deification of the two rock stars.

George Michael asked ‘If Jesus Christ is alive and well, how come John and Elvis are dead?’

While Michael is primarily known for the pop music he made in the 1980s and 1990s, “John and Elvis Are Dead” is a sultry R&B tune. It sounds more like Usher than The Beatles or the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In the tune, Michael asks “If Jesus Christ is alive, then how come John and Elvis are dead?”

The tune is basically a variation on theodicy — the theological question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. It’s interesting that Michael uses the deaths of John and Elvis as symbols of injustice. Thanks to songs such as “Imagine,” “Give Peace a Chance,” and “All You Need Is Love,” as well as his untimely death, John garnered a saintly image in pop culture. While Elvis wasn’t a peace activist like John, his sudden death at the age of 42 still shocked and devastated fans across the globe.

George Michael revealed what he thought of his album ‘Patience’

“John and Elvis Are Dead” appeared on Michael’s album Patience. During a 2004 interview with Attitude recorded in the book George Michael, Michael discussed the album. “It’s kinda very light and very dark at the same time,” he said. “There are proclamations of love that I’ve never made before — certainly since Wham! — and then there’s going further into the truth at the same time, like on ‘My Mother Had a Brother’ or ‘Through’ — they’re trying to get closer to the truth.”

Michael discussed his sound on Patience. “There is something about the vocals on this album that’s a lot more confident, more certain,” he opined. “Even though I love ‘Songs From The Last Century’ and ‘Older,’ there’s an energy level to this record that I haven’t had since before all the s*** started, before I met and lost [his boyfriend] Anselmo [Feleppa] and my mother died. If you think about the energy of freedom on ‘Listen Without Prejudice,’ I don’t think I had that energy to give again until last year. Which is why ‘Amazing’ reminds me of Wham! more than anything I’ve done.”


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How ‘John and Elvis Are Dead’ performed on the pop charts

“John and Elvis Are Dead” did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune appeared on Michael’s album Patience. That record reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 16 weeks.

According to The Official Charts Company, “John and Elvis Are Dead” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. On the other hand, Patience climbed to No. 1 in the U.K. for a single week. Patience lasted on the chart for a total of 30 weeks.

“John and Elvis Are Dead” wasn’t one of Michael’s biggest hits but it showed how much impact a certain pair of rock stars had on popular culture.