Former Wham! star Andrew Ridgeley has told of how he fell to his knees and “cried like I’d never cried before” after hearing the news George Michael’s death.

Michael died on Christmas Day last year at the age of 53, and Ridgeley said that he was “consumed” by his grief after losing his long-time friend and colleague.

Ridgeley, who scored success with hits including Last Christmas and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go as a part of Wham! in the 1980s, wrote in The Mail on Sunday that he had sent Michael “a message wishing him a wonderful Christmas” just five minutes before learning of his death.

He said: “That night, after I had phoned our friends to convey the dreadful news – and despite having shed an ocean of tears already that day – the sheer eviscerating sense of loss cut my legs from beneath me and, on the deck and on my knees, I cried like I’d never cried before.

George MichaelGeorge Michael (Chris Radburn/PA)

“Nothing had prepared me for the depth of pain George’s death precipitated.”

Ridgeley, 54, described the “overwhelming” shock and disbelief at losing his friend, who he befriended at school in the 1970s.

He said: “I had lost my parents in recent years and yet, this was entirely different, a loss I had not contemplated, a loss that was inconceivable, one so abysmally sad that in that moment I was consumed by it.

“I had always been aware of George’s importance to me, of the bond of friendship and of the sparkle and light, effervescence and electricity that suffused the music we made.

“Yet in the intervening years between our career together as Wham! and where our different lives had subsequently led us, I had somehow lost sight of quite what my childhood best friend meant to me.”

Michael died from heart disease and a build-up of fat in his liver, which can be linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

Ridgeley is now hoping to get their beloved festive hit Last Christmas to the Christmas number one spot this year, a feat that has so far escaped the track, which peaked at number two.

He wrote that he feels it is “the most fitting tribute to my dearest friend of all”.

“For me and so many others, the bittersweet nature of the song means it will forever mark the best and the worst of times,” he said.

Ridgeley added that Michael “was passionate about getting his songs to number one, which is why it is important to me now that the anniversary of his death be marked by an accolade of this kind.”

The musician praised Michael’s ability in performing “musical alchemy” in his creation of Last Christmas, “distilling the essence” of the season into music.

“Adding a lyric which told the tale of betrayed love was a masterstroke and, as he did so often, he touched hearts,” Ridgeley added.