British singer George Michael has reportedly died at age 53, his publicist has said. The Hollywood reporter has quoted his long-time manager George Lippman as saying he died of heart failure.
According to the BBC, the star is said to have passed away peacefully at his home on Christmas Day after police attended a property in Oxfordshire at around 1:42PM GMT. Police say there were no suspicious circumstances.
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".
Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, found fame in the 1980s as half of the music duo Wham! The music was pure pop, one sugar-coated upbeat dance track after another with tunes so catchy they stuck in your head all day, and often for years afterwards.
A signature song of the early age of Wham! was Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Back in the day, it seemed like every third kid in the playground back in the day was wearing a Choose Life T-Shirt.
Then there was the slower, moodier ballad Careless Whisper. That seductive saxophone riff lives on forever.
By the late 1980s, Michael went out on his own. Unlike so many manufactured pop stars of his era, Michael was the real deal. He composed, arranged, and of course performed vocals on every song bar one on the album -- which went on to win a Grammy and make numerous best-album-of-all-time lists.
Here's the title track.
Michael remained active as both a song writer and performer right up until the last year or so.
In the Wham! days, Michael said he was bisexual, but came out as gay when he was aged 34. As The Huffington Post (U.S.) reports, questions about his sexuality were raised when he was arrested in 1998 for "engaging in a lewd act" in a public restroom of the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, California.
"I feel stupid and reckless and weak for letting my sexuality be exposed that way," Michael told CNN at the time. "But I do not feel shame [about my sexuality], neither do I think I should."
This is the latest death of a musical icon in what has been a sad year for the industry. David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen were among the other household music industry names to pass away in 2016.
More to come.Suggest a correction