2016 deals another blow to the entertainment industry. Pop superstar, George Michael, has passed away “peacefully at home”, according to his publicist. The former member of 80’s British duo Wham! had been rumoured to be suffering from ongoing health issues.
In a statement, the star’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.
“The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”
Thames Valley police told the BBC an ambulance attended his home in Oxfordshire at 1.42pm and there were no suspicious circumstances.
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, George Michael sold over 100 million albums over a near four decade long career.
He made his name with schoolfriend Andrew Ridgeley, breaking through with Wham! known for their hits Club Tropicana and Last Christmas, before realising solo success. His best known records include the multi-million selling debut Faith and follow-up Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, as well as singles Careless Whisper and Outside.
In 2011, Michael withheld a run of concerts after being admitted to hospital for treatment for pneumonia.
After treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made an appearance outside his home and said it had been “touch and go” whether he lived.
Doctors were said to have performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was unconscious for some time in hospital.
The 53-year-old, who was set to release a documentary in 2017, alongside a reissued version of his second album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. The film, with the working title ‘Freedom’, was to be narrated by Michael, and set to feature Mark Ronson, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Mary J Blige among others.
George Michael was a megastar in his own right, an artistic driving force to emerge from prejudice of 80’s pop. He helped revolutionise men’s sexuality and continued to create over his illustrious career. Revered by his peers all around the world, his undeniable charisma and innovation have cemented his legacy as one of the most influence pop stars of all time.