George Michael, the English pop singer and former member of Wham!, has died at the age of 53.
The singer “passed away peacefully at his home,” according to a statement from his publicist provided to the BBC.
“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,” read the statement.
“The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”
Fellow pop music luminaries and celebrities across the board paid their tributes on Twitter:
RIP George Michael. I can't believe it. Such an incredible singer and a lovely human being, far too young to leave us #georgemichael
— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) December 25, 2016
— Duran Duran (@duranduran) December 25, 2016
Stunned. George Michael. A talented and gentle soul. May you rest in Gods love and Peace 🙏🏿 #RIPGeorgeMichael
— MC HAMMER (@MCHammer) December 26, 2016
I just heard about my friend @GeorgeMichael's death. He was such a brilliant talent. I'm so sad.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 25, 2016
Rest with the glittering stars, George Michael. You've found your Freedom, your Faith. It was your Last Christmas, and we shall miss you.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) December 25, 2016
RIP George Michael.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 25, 2016
Michael, whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, launched his music career with British pop duo Wham! in the early ’80s.
The duo became internationally famous for their hit songs like “Careless Whisper”, “Last Christmas” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”.
In 1986, Michael continued his success as a solo performer, but sported an edgier look – a departure from his teen heartthrob image as part of Wham!
Some of the best known songs recorded by Michael during his solo years include “Freedom” and the highly controversial “I Want Your Sex.”
In 1988, his album Faith won a Grammy for best album of the year.
A decade later, Michael was arrested for public lewdness in Los Angeles, an incident that led to him acknowledging that he was gay.
But his popularity waned through the ’90s and early 2000s, a period during which he also had several brushes with the law due to his recreational drug use.
In 2011, Michael cancelled a concert in Vienna hours before it was scheduled to start after being hospitalized with an inflammation of the respiratory system. A couple of days later, the singer’s management cancelled the entirety of his remaining 2011 tour dates.
Doctors treating Michael at the time said that he was suffering from “severe community acquired pneumonia.” Rumours of even more severe health problems were allayed by doctors, who suggested that the ex-‘Wham!’ frontman was simply in need of “absolute rest and restraint” to recover from his infection.
However, Michael later admitted that he had “played down” the extent of his illness in order to avoid upsetting fans, and said that his condition was “touch and go” at times. Speaking outside his London home, he said that surgeons performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open.
Michael went on to perform at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London in August 2012, but cancelled a series of concerts in Australia a month later to receive treatment for severe anxiety.
In 2013, Michael was involved in a car crash in which he was ejected from the vehicle and onto a busy highway, with witnesses saying the singer was lucky to not have been run over by vehicles. He received treatment for cuts and bruises but wasn’t seriously injured in the crash, one of many vehicular incidents he had been involved in over the years.
His last album titled Symphonica came out in 2014. A couple of months after the album’s release, Michael was rushed to hospital after collapsing at his home, as noted by ET Canada.
There are reports Michael was working on a new album earlier this month.
Michael sold more than 100 million albums in his lifetime.
— With a file from Reuters.