British singer George Michael, 53, dies

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

George Michael, a well-known British pop singer and songwriter, died on Christmas Day at the age of 53. Michael was found dead at his home in Oxfordshire, England, by boyfriend Fadi Fawaz.

Cquote1.svg I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend — the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. Cquote2.svg

Elton John

Michael's publicist released the following statement to People and Entertainment Weekly: "It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period. The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time." He also reported that Michael had died of heart failure and "passed away peacefully".

Sir Elton John said via Instagram, "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend — the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans."

George Michael in 2006
Image: Insasse
(CC BY-SA 2.5).

George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in London. Over his multi-decade career, he sold more than 100 million records. Along with co-singer Andrew Ridgeley he became famous as part of the duo band Wham!. Together, Michael and Ridgeley produced several hit songs, such as Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Freedom, and Last Christmas. In 1985, Wham! was the first Western band to play in China since the beginning of the country's opening up strategy. Wham! dissolved in 1986. In 1984, Michael recorded the successful single Careless Whisper. Michael was credited as the solo artist in the United Kingdom and as "Wham! featuring George Michael" in the United States. Michael released a hit solo album Faith in 1987, containing hits like I Want Your Sex.

Michael's life was troubled by both substance abuse and issues with his sexuality. He initially hid his identity as a gay man from his fans, coming out only after a very public arrest for public lewdness in 1998. He would later be arrested for possession of drugs and driving under the influence of drugs. He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison in 2010 for crashing a Range Rover into a storefront while under the influence of drugs and possession of cannabis.

Michael had a history of transforming his negative experiences into art. He wrote White Light about a serious case of pneumonia that led to his hospitalization in 2011, and the music video for Outside, which followed on the heels of his arrest and coming out, showed scenes of a men's bathroom, a dance club, and men kissing while in police uniforms. He would perform White Light live at the 2012 London Olympics.


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