British singer and pop idol George Michael died in his home in Oxfordshire, England, on Christmas Day. He was 53. His manager Michael Lippmann said the cause of death was heart failure.
Earlier, police had said that his death was “unexplained but not suspicious”. Michael’s publicist had said, “The family ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”
British legend Elton John posted a picture of the two on Instagram, saying, “I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend…” Michael’s close friend Andrew Ridgeley and fellow Wham! member tweeted, “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog.”
Born Gergios Kyriacos Panayiotou in London in 1963, Michael formed Wham! in 1981 with Ridgeley. Michael was 19 when the duo’s first single “Young Guns (Go For It!)” released and became a smash hit in the United Kingdom. Soon after, he became a teen idol and went on to make many more successful albums until 1986 when Wham! announced their split.
His solo offerings, such as “I Want Your Sex”, “Faith”, “Father Figure” and “Careless Whisper”, were all No. 1 hits in the United States. Producer and songwriter Naughty Boy and Michael had been working on a new album before he died, BBC reported.
Michael had several run-ins with the law. In 1998, he was arrested for “engaging in a lewd act” in a public restroom in Beverly Hills, California. In 2006, he was arrested for possession of drugs in London, the first of the many such run-ins he had later in the decade. His sexual orientation was the subject of great deal of speculation, until in 1998 when Michael came out as gay.