George Michael Dies Of Heart Failure At His Oxfordshire Home At 53-Years-Old And Heartbroken Wham! Band-mate Andrew Ridgeley Pays Tribute To His Beloved Friend As Fans Mourn Legend’s Death.
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 today.
Michael’s former manager Michael Lippman claimed he had died in bed as a result of ‘heart failure.’
Police have announced that they are not treating the star’s death as suspicious.
Thames Valley Police said officers were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, shortly before 2pm on Christmas Day.
His Wham! band-mate Andrew Ridgeley and close friend Elton John have lead the tributes to the star on social media.
Posting on Twitter page, 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’
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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, the star’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.’
Michael nearly died from pneumonia 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.
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 realize the danger I was in until after I’d come out the other side.’
Celebrity fans have taken to Twitter to convey their grief over the loss of Michael.
Ricky Gervais, who cast Michael in an episode of his sitcom Extras, wrote: ‘Unbelievable. RIP George Michael.’
Hit producer Mark Ronson called Michael a ‘phenomenon’ on Twitter.
Spandau Ballet’s official account posted: ‘We are incredibly sad at the passing of our dear friend George Michael. A brilliant artist great songwriter.’
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.’
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’ve always liked him since. Sad day for him to go so young. #rip’
George Michael: A shining star with a troubled life
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 offenses 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 fan base.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.
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.
By Alex Matthews For Mailonline