LONDON, ENGLAND—British musician George Michael, 53, died at his home in Goring, Oxfordshire, England on Sunday, December 25. His death was confirmed by his publicist, Cindi Berger, and reportedly caused by 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. The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage,” said Berger in a statement.
The Hollywood Reporter indicated the Thames Valley Police reportedly showed up at Michael’s home around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday noting that the musician was “deceased at the scene,” and that his death “is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. A post mortem will be undertaken in due course. There will be no further updates from Thames Valley Police until the post mortem has taken place.”
Michael and British musician Andrew Ridgeley, 53, formed the duo WHAM! in 1981. Their debut album, “Fantastic” was released in 1983 and reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart. The pair’s final single, “Where Did Your Heart Go?” was also ranked No. 1 in 1986.
Among the duo’s other popular singles include “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” “Freedom,” “I’m Your Man,” and “The Edge of Heaven.”
Following the duo’s split, Michael began a solo career in 1987, when he released his debut album, “Faith.” It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. He also collaborated with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Elton John, Queen, and Lisa Stansfield. His single, “I Want Your Sex” was banned from certain radio stations.
Michael did not publicly identify as homosexual until he was arrested in Los Angeles in 1998 for lewd conduct in a public restroom upon being caught by an undercover police officer. The incident received international attention in the media. Michael later released the music video and single for “Outside” which reflected the charges he faced and poked fun at the officers who arrested him. The musician had multiple run-ins with the law throughout his career.
He was incarcerated a second time for drug use inside a London public restroom in 2008. During a 2011 press conference, Michael shared that he felt as though such incidents would make it easier for the public to criticize homosexuals. Following the conference, he released a number of songs (some of which he had composed prior to publicly announcing his sexuality) which became popular gay anthems.
He was avidly involved in charities and performances that raised funds for HIV research. He lost his former partner Anselmo Feleppa in 1993 to the disease.
Michael Lippman, the musician’s longtime manager, shared his response to the singer’s passing with The Hollywood Reporter noting that there was “no foul play whatsoever.”
Former bandmate Andrew Ridgeley also tweeted about the loss, referring to Michael as “Yog.”