British pop star George Michael, who first shot to fame as part of the 1980’s duo Wham!, is dead. He was 53 years old.
His publicist revealed in a statement that Michael ”passed away peacefully” on his bed on Christmas day from heart failure.
“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,” said 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.”
According to the Police, George Michael’s death is being treated as unexplained although there were no suspicious circumstances.
Michael, whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou scored great hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, ”Last Christmas” and “Careless Whisper” with band mate Andrew Ridgeley.
After the duo broke up, Michael went on to have a successful solo career. His 1987 debut album “Faith” sold more than 20 million copies.
He achieved seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits in the US and has sold more than 80 million records worldwide in a career spanning four decades.
Following the announcement of his death, former Wham! bandmate Ridgeley said he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend”.
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 https://t.co/OlGTm4D9O6
— Andrew Ridgeley (@ajridgeley) December 26, 2016
George Michael was not far from controversy following the success of his music.
In April 1998, he was arrested in the men’s room of a public park in Beverly Hills for lewd conduct. He later revealed that he was gay.
In October 2006, he pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs, and in 2008 was cautioned for possession of class A drugs, including crack cocaine.
In September 2010, Michael crashed his Range Rover into a shop in north London and received an eight-week prison sentence. He admitted to driving under the influence of drugs and possessing cannabis.
George Michael’s hits have however not suffered as much as he did with many songs, both as a solo artist and with Wham! still well-known today.