Singer George Michael dies at 53

Singer George Michael died on Christmas day at his home at the age of 53

Singer George Michael has died for 'unexplained' reasons
Singer George Michael has died for 'unexplained' reasons

British singer George Michael has died at his home in England on Sunday, aged 53.

Michael, who was born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist with sometimes sexually provocative lyrics.

"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.

Thames Valley Police police said Michael's death was "unexplained but not suspicious."

"At this stage the 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."

On the other hand, Michael's manager, Michael Lippman, said the singer had died from heart failure in bed.

In the mid-1980s, Wham! was one of the most successful pop duos ever, ahead even of Simon & Garfunkel, with singles like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Careless Whisper", “Last Christmas" and "“The Edge of Heaven".

Michael, who was set to release a documentary in 2017, had also a highly successful solo career which included the songs "Careless Whisper", "Faith", "Outside" and "Freedom! 90".

He had frequent brushes with the law, including his highly publicised arrest in a Los Angeles public toilet in 1998, an episode that led him to acknowledge his homosexuality and his relationship with Kenny Goss. His track Outside, released the same year, poked fun at the arrest and reached No 2 in the charts.

But Michael would struggle to recapture the same success and his last studio album, Patience, was released in 2004.

In later years he had a series of arrests for drugs and driving offences and was banned from driving twice. In 2011 he officially announced the ending of a turbulent 15-year relationship with Goss – though he said that the pair had actually split about two years earlier. After a career hiatus that he described as “a very long period of grief and self-abuse”, he announced his return to performing and said he felt remorse for the impact his high-profile arrests might have had on young gay people striving for acceptance.

Michael nearly died of 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. Doctors had performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was unconscious for some of his spell in hospital.

In May 2013, Michael had to be airlifted to hospital with a head injury after falling from his vehicle on the M1.

Michael’s 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 had been set to be reissued, accompanied by a new film featuring Stevie Wonder, John and the supermodels who starred in the video to his hit single Freedom! 90.

The movie, with the working title Freedom: George Michael, was to be narrated by Michael and set to feature Mark Ronson, Mary J Blige, Tony Bennett, Liam Gallagher, James Corden and Ricky Gervais.