Singer George Michael dead at 53 years
British pop singer George Michael, who shot to fame in the 1980s with Wham! and continued as a solo artist, died on Sunday (December 25) at his home in England. He was 53.
“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,” his publicist said in a 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,” the statement said.
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, he once played music on the London underground train system before forming Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. He died peacefully at his home in Oxfordshire, England, on Christmas Day.
The “Careless Whisper” singer had suffered a string of accidents and health scares in recent years.
In May 2013 (May 16) Michael received medical treatment for “minor cuts and bruises” following a car crash, which according to media reports occurred just outside London on a motorway during rush hour.
In 2011 he cancelled his tour of Australia due to “major anxiety” brought on by a 2011 battle with severe pneumonia in Vienna, where he lay in intensive care for a month.
His hospital stint also forced the singer to postpone a series of concerts from the European leg of his Symphonica tour, including a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which was scheduled to take place on October 26, 2011.
Back in London in December 2011) a thin and still visibly weak looking Michael stepped in front of cameras and reporters (December 23) to thank everyone for their help and support.
Michael has sold an estimated 100 million records over his career, but has hit headlines in recent years for his personal life more often than for his music.
In 2010 he admitted to driving under the influence of cannabis and crashing into a North London shop. He received a jail sentence.
In 2007 he had to hand in his driving license after being found asleep in his car. But his most notorious arrest was in 1998 when he was convicted of a ‘lewd act’ in a public Los Angele toilet. After that incident he ended years of speculation announcing that he was gay. He also released his new single ‘Outside’ making fun of the incident.
He then courted controversy again by speaking out against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A court appearance of a different kind was his public attempt to try and get released from his Sony contract which he lost.
The relationship between Michael and Sony started to go sour after the release of Faith and the five number one hits that album spawned. Sony wanted Michael to promote his next album, Listen Without Prejudice, in the same way he had for Faith, but Michael wanted to concentrate on writing instead.
Michael also said that Sony refused to get behind an AIDS charity release, Red, Hot And Blue, to which he contributed and were reportedly reluctant to release a duet with Elton John — “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” — although it had gone to number one in 15 countries.
Taking stock of his over two decades in the music industry Michael produced a documentary ‘A Different Story’ which he showed at the Berlin Film Festival in 2005.
Michael burst on to the British pop scene in the early 80s as the lead singer of Wham!, which had a string of catchy hits including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas”.
He also found success as a solo artist with chart-toppers like “Careless Whisper” and “A Different Corner”, and it was only a matter of time before he struck out alone.
His rich vein continued with the 1987 No. 1 “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” in which he performed with Aretha Franklin, one of his favourite artists.
The same year he released “Faith”, an album which spawned a string of hit singles including “I Want Your Sex”, “Faith” and “Father Figure” and earned the singer a Grammy.
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