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George Michael dies 'of heart failure' at just aged 53 as Wham! bandmate pays tribute {VIDEO+PICS}

  • Wham! singer, 53, died at his home in Goring, Oxfordshire yesterday, his publicist announced
  • Popstar Michael was found in his bed and his former manager said he died as a result of 'heart failure'
  • Police have announced that they are not treating the musician's death as suspicious  
  • Micheal had previously fallen ill with pneumonia in 2011 and had battled substance abuse during his life
  • Celebrities have paid tribute to star online with pal Elton John calling him the 'kindest, most generous soul'

Pop star George Michael has died aged 53 at his home in Oxfordshire.

The musician's publicist said that he had 'passed away peacefully' at his property in Goring at 1.42pm yesterday.

Michael's former manager Michael Lippman claimed he had died in bed as a result of 'heart failure.' 

Thames Valley Police said officers were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, shortly before 2pm on Christmas Day.

A spokesman said: 'Sadly, a 53-year-old man was confirmed deceased at the scene. At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.' 

His Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley and close friend Elton John have lead the tributes to the star on social media.

Posting on Twitter, musician Ridgeley wrote: 'Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx'

While John posted a heartfelt message along with a picture of the pair together on his Instagram page.

He wrote: '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. @GeorgeMichael #RIP.' 

Pictures were taken of George Michael dining with friends at an Oxfordshire restaurant in September this year. This is believed to be the last time the musician was photographed

Pictures were taken of George Michael dining with friends at an Oxfordshire restaurant in September this year. This is believed to be the last time the musician was photographed

George Michael, who died on Christmas Day, is seen at a restaurant with friends in this September 2016 photograph

George Michael, who died on Christmas Day, is seen at a restaurant with friends in this September 2016 photograph

 

Singer George Michael, 53, has died at his home in Oxfordshire

Pictured, George Michael while performing with Wham!

George Michael, 53, has died at his home in Oxfordshire. The singer rose to fame as a member of Wham! before becoming a global solo star

Pictured: Michael and his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley on stage in 1986 - the pair would go on to achieve fame with a number of hits including Last Christmas and Club Tropicana

Pictured: Michael and his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley on stage in 1986 - the pair would go on to achieve fame with a number of hits including Last Christmas and Club Tropicana

2011: George Michael press conference on his health

Late Sunday night, singer Boy George tweeted: 'I am thinking of @GeorgeMichael's family, friends and fans right now. He was so loved and I hope he knew it because the sadness today is beyond words. Devastating. 

'What a beautiful voice he had and his music will live on as a testament to his talent. I can't believe he is gone. I hope the Buddha will hold him in his arms. NMRK.' 

Michael, who was set to release a documentary in 2017, rose to fame as a member of Wham! who were known for their hits Club Tropicana and Last Christmas.

The singer - whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.

In a statement, Michael's publicist said: '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. There will be no further comment at this stage.'

The singer's death comes as he planned to work on a new album with UK producer Naughty Boy.

In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, the producer, who has collaborated with a list of stars including Beyonce, said: 'I can't wait. I don't know what to expect. And, to be honest, he's more mysterious than anyone else so I'm actually excited.

'I reached out and then he got back.

'He's got an album coming out next year, and he's going to be doing something for my album as well.'

Michael enjoyed a successful career that spanned four decades, earning numerous number one hits, which included his 1996 single 'FastLove'

Michael enjoyed a successful career that spanned four decades, earning numerous number one hits, which included his 1996 single 'FastLove'

Naughty Boy paid tribute tonight by tweeting the title of one of Michael's hits, he simply posted: 'jesus to a child.'

While enjoying a glittering career, Michael has endured a turbulent personal life and nearly died from pneumonia while on tour in late 2011.

After receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful appearance outside his London home and said it had been 'touch and go' whether he lived.

Doctors had performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was unconscious for some of his spell in hospital.

He later told the Daily Mail: 'It almost killed me. On a subconscious level, it was very frightening and I'll probably never feel quite as safe in life again.

'But I also remember experiencing incredible guilt for my family and friends, because they literally spent weeks not knowing whether I was going to make it.

'Now, if that had happened to me in reverse, if I'd had to watch one of my sisters go through that, well... it would have devastated me.

'For most of the time, though, I was pretty much out of it, so I didn't realise the danger I was in until after I'd come out the other side.'  

Michael had also struggled with drug addiction and admitted that during one period he was smoking 25 joints a day. In 2008, he was caught smoking crack cocaine in a public toilet. 

As the world comes to terms with the loss of one of its greatest pop stars, celebrity fans have taken to Twitter to share their grief.

Ricky Gervais, who cast Michael in an episode of his sitcom Extras, wrote: 'Unbelievable. RIP George Michael.'

Hit producer Mark Ronson wrote: 'Other than a global pop phenom [sic], George was one of the true British soul greats a lot of us owe him an unpayable debt. Bye George xx' 

Spandau Ballet's official account posted: 'We are incredibly sad at the passing of our dear friend George Michael. A brilliant artist great songwriter.'  

Pictured: Michael - who sold 100 million album across a long career - with fellow eighties star Boy George, in 1987

Pictured: Michael - who sold 100 million album across a long career - with fellow eighties star Boy George, in 1987

GEORGE  MICHAEL:  THE LIFE OF A POP ICON  

George Michael has died aged 53, he rose to fame with Wham! before becoming an international pop star

George Michael has died aged 53, he rose to fame with Wham! before becoming an international pop star


George Michael was born in East Finchley, London, on June 25, 1963.

He was the son of Greek Cypriot restaurateur Kyriacos Panayiotou, who moved to England in the 1950s.

Michael first attended Kingsbury High School in north London. His mother, Lesley Angold, was an English dancer.

When he was a teenager, his family moved to Hertfordshire, an affluent village called Radlett just north east of Watford.

It was there where he met Wham! partner and guitarist Andrew Ridgeley after he joined Bushey Meads School in Bushey.

As their relationship grew, it was clear that the pair wanted to be famous musicians and Michael starting busking on the London Underground.

He would sing songs, including Queen's '39' and then he started working as a DJ.

The singer went on to perform at small venues in Watford, Stanmore and Bushey.

He then formed the ska band, The Executive with Ridgeley and Ridgeley's brother Paul, Andrew Leaver and David Mortimer.

Michael then started Wham! with Ridgeley in 1981 and their debut album, Fantastic, reached number one in the UK two years later.

Their second album, Make It Big – which included 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-GO' - reached number one in the US.

He sang on the original Band Air recording of 'Do They Know It's Christmas' – which later became the UK Christmas number one.

In 1986, Wham! separated.

Just one year later he launched his own solo career and kicked it off with a duet with star Aretha Franklin.

He went on to release seven solo albums – from Faith in 1987 to Symphonica in 2014. 

Matt Goss, who was half of eighties boy group Bros, tweeted: 'George Michael was part of the tapestry of my life. His song lyrics & his melodies, True pop royalty. Heartbroken, RIP dearest George.'

American DJ and music journalist Questlove Gomez wrote: 'I don't have it in me anymore to write about our greats. I just knew one day I'd get to work with #GeorgeMichael. Sad Christmas.'

James Corden posted: 'I've loved George Michael for as long as I can remember. He was an absolute inspiration. Always ahead of his time.' 

While Gary Lineker posted: 'No, not George Michael as well. Another musical great leaves us this year. 2016 can just sod off. #RIPGeorge'

Electro-pop star Gary Numan tweeted: 'Oh no. George Michael RIP.' 

Alison Moyet, who performed at Live Aid in 1985 on the same bill as Michael, said: 'I met George Michael a few times & he was ever a gentle, unassuming soul. A rare presence in a world full of self. Honest, genuine talent.'

The official account of eighties pop group Duran Duran also paid their respects by tweeting: '2016 - loss of another talented soul. All our love and sympathy to @GeorgeMichael's family.'  

Celebrities and musicians have taken to Twitter to post about their sadness on the passing of George Michael today

Celebrities and musicians have taken to Twitter to post about their sadness on the passing of George Michael today

Fans across the world have also paid tribute to a pop icon.

Tracy Goldshaw wrote: 'So upset over George Michael's death, you were my 80's hero and I loved you so much #GeorgeMichael. Rest in peace.'

Ozlem Ozturk made reference to the Wham! hit 'Careless Whisper' and posted: 'George Michael :( So I'm never gonna dance again the way I danced with you RIP.' 

Jade posted: '2016 has robbed us of some of the biggest icons George Michael dying on Christmas Day really takes the biscuit. #ripgeorgemichael' 

Louise tweeted: 'So upset to hear about the loss of my first love @GeorgeMichael, such a beautiful, talented man #RIPGeorgeMichael' 

Eke said: 'I was such a big fan of George Michael when I was a very young child. I'v always liked him since. Sad day for him to go so young. #rip'  


George Michael: A shining star with a troubled life

Michael's good looks and iconic quiff made him a pin-up during his rise to fame in the 1980s (pictured, in 1987)

Michael's good looks and iconic quiff made him a pin-up during his rise to fame in the 1980s (pictured, in 1987)

A musical great known for both his chart-topping hits and his turbulent personal life, George Michael was a giant of popular culture.

The Wham! singer and solo performer enjoyed a glittering chart career, having sold more than 100 million records including seven number one singles in the UK, with tracks such as Careless Whisper and Faith.

He carved out an international name for himself, but brushes with the law and tales of his drug use increasingly made more impact than his musical output.

The hit machine slowed, chart positions faltered and incidents of drug possession, driving offences and personal problems became the chief reasons for his occasional returns to the spotlight.

His last appearance in the top 10 was in 2004 and a Christmas single released last December climbed to just number 14 despite a devoted fanbase.

Michael entered a period of semi-retirement in 2008, quitting live performances and seeking a 'quieter life' out of the public eye.

Michael - born Georgios Panayiotou - found fame as a teenager in the early 1980s after forming Wham! with school friend Andrew Ridgeley.

The pair enjoyed hit after hit, including Club Tropicana, Young Guns (Go For It) and Last Christmas.

But they decided to bow out at the top, pulling the plug on their partnership with a final chart-topping single The Edge Of Heaven in 1986 and triumphant Wembley shows.

Pictured: George Michael and Andrew Ridgley from the pop group Wham! posed for a photograph during a visit to China in the 1980s

Pictured: George Michael and Andrew Ridgley from the pop group Wham! posed for a photograph during a visit to China in the 1980s

Michael then embarked on a hugely successful solo career, plus occasional collaborations with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Sir Elton John and Queen, after the death of Freddie Mercury.

His album Faith - which has been remastered and later released in 2010 - was a massive success in 1988.

A musical great known for both his chart-topping hits and his turbulent personal life, George Michael was a giant of popular culture

A musical great known for both his chart-topping hits and his turbulent personal life, George Michael was a giant of popular culture

But lengthy legal battles followed as he tried to free himself from a deal with record label Sony which effectively prevented new recordings (only to re-sign with them a few years later).

Things began to unravel further when, after years of refusing to be drawn on speculation about his sexuality, he was arrested in public toilets in Beverly Hills, California, in 1998 for engaging in a lewd act.

The incident forced him to disclose his homosexuality and his relationship with American Kenny Goss.

He later said his late 20s had been a very depressing time for him after he lost his partner, Anselmo Feleppa, to HIV and his mother died some time later.

He said: 'I had my very first relationship at 27 because I really had not actually come to terms with my sexuality until I was 24.

'I lost my partner to HIV then it took about three years to grieve; then after that I lost my mother. I felt almost like I was cursed.'

He parodied the arrest incident in the video of 1998 single Outside, which reached number two, but he struggled to reach such heights again.

He did not help his cause when his satirical take on the relationship between Tony Blair and George Bush, Shoot The Dog, was released in 2002. He was branded a 'washed-up pop pervert' by a US newspaper.

A further run-in with the law came in October 2006 when he was found slumped over the wheel of his car. The following May he pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs and was banned from driving for two years.

In 2008 Michael took a step back from the public eye but less than a month later he was once again in the glare when he was cautioned for possession of class A drugs, which included crack cocaine, and class C drugs.

Pictured: George Michael and Beatles legend Paul McCartney on stage during a star-studded performance at the Live8 concert in Hyde Park, London, in July, 2005

Pictured: George Michael and Beatles legend Paul McCartney on stage during a star-studded performance at the Live8 concert in Hyde Park, London, in July, 2005

In September 2010 Michael received an eight-week prison sentence following an incident the previous July in which he crashed his Range Rover into a shop in north London. He was also given a five-year driving ban after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of drugs and possessing cannabis.

In 2011, he officially announced the ending of a turbulent 15-year relationship with Goss - though he said that the pair had actually split around two years earlier.

In an attempt to relaunch his musical career, Michael performed a song from his new album during the closing ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Health scares dogged the last decade of his life.

Last year he publicly denied new allegations about drug-taking, describing them as 'highly inaccurate'.

The star nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011. After receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, Michael made a tearful appearance outside his London home just before Christmas and said it had been 'touch and go' whether he lived.

Before he appeared, he arranged for an assistant to bring out a plate of mince pies for the waiting media gathered outside.

Despite a glittering life onstage Michael had endured a turbulent personal life which saw him battle substance abuse and fall seriously ill with pneumonia in 2011 (pictured, on his 'Symphonica' tour in Vienna, 2012)

Despite a glittering life onstage Michael had endured a turbulent personal life which saw him battle substance abuse and fall seriously ill with pneumonia in 2011 (pictured, on his 'Symphonica' tour in Vienna, 2012)

It triggered a period of major anxiety which caused Michael to cancel his forthcoming Australian tour, and the singer later called it 'basically by far the worst month of my life'.

Michael said he had been lucky to have become ill close to a hospital with suitable specialists, adding: 'I have to believe that somebody thinks I've still got some work to do here.'

But he was to return to hospital just 18 months later with a head head injury following a bizarre incident on the M1 motorway when he fell from his vehicle on to the tarmac.

Michael had been looking to the future shortly before his death, with a documentary film entitled Freedom due for release next March.

He died peacefully at his home over the festive period, the star's publicist announced on Christmas Day.

2016: CELEBRITY DEATHS 

David Bowie died on January 10, surrounded by his family in New York City after battling liver cancer

David Bowie died on January 10, surrounded by his family in New York City after battling liver cancer

JANUARY: David Bowie, Glen Frey

The rock legend died on January 10, surrounded by his family in New York City after battling liver cancer. 

Eagles frontman Glenn Frey died aged 67 on January 18 following complications due to pneumonia and arthritis. 

MARCH: Sir George Martin, Keith Emerson

The Beatles producer - often described as 'The Fifth Beatle' - died peacefully at his home in Coleshill, near Swindon, on March 8, aged 90. 

Rock star Keith Emerson, 71, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, was found in Los Angeles on March 11. He had shot himself with a gun he kept for protection.

APRIL: Prince

The 57-year-old Purple Rain singer died on April 21. He died from a fentanyl overdose.

JUNE: Dave Swarbick

Dave Swarbrick of folk band Fairport Convention died aged 75 from emphysema on June 3.

OCTOBER: Pete Burns

Singer, songwriter and television personality Pete Burns, who founded pop band Dead Or Alive, died aged 57 on October 23 following a cardiac arrest. 

Purple Rain singer Prince, 57, died on April 21 earlier this year. The Raspberry Beret singer (pictured) died from a fentanyl overdose

Purple Rain singer Prince, 57, died on April 21 earlier this year. The Raspberry Beret singer (pictured) died from a fentanyl overdose

NOVEMBER: Leonard Cohen, Craig Gill

The poet and author turned musician passed away peacefully on November 7 at his Los Angeles home aged 82. 

Craig Gill, drummer of Madchester band Inspiral Carpets, died aged 44 on November 22. 

DECEMBER: Greg Lake

Greg Lake of progressive rock icons Emerson, Lake and Palmer died aged 69 on December 7 after a battle with cancer.

Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt died in a Spanish hospital at the age of 68 on Christmas Eve after suffering from a severe infection.

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Comment by Robert on December 26, 2016 at 1:49pm
Yes I just saw a video with him and Mary J Blige re making a old Stevie Wonder song.
Regardless of his turbulent personal life the Man had rhythm and could sing.. RIP
Comment by Mike k on December 26, 2016 at 12:57pm

Yea, this was one of the funkiest white boys & a great singer. R.I.P.

Comment by mr1stroke on December 26, 2016 at 11:27am

thats all i thought he was older than that, he was one of the first gay artists to come out the closet, but yes he can since his ass of, well R.I.P hope you welcome where ever youre heading in peace 

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