Pop superstar George Michael, who rose to fame as part of the pop duo Wham! in the early 1980s has died “peacefully” at his home in England at the age of 53, according to his publicist.
An ambulance was called to the singer’s home in Oxfordshire earlier today. His manager Michael Lippman told the media that the singer died from heart failure “in bed.”
A statement was released that read: “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.”
Local Thames Valley Police stated that there is nothing suspicious about Michael’s death but offered no further explanation as to why he died at such a young age.
He came close to death in November 2011 due to a severe bout of pneumonia and then experienced anxiety attacks several months later that forced him to cancel several concerts. He also spent time in jail after driving under the influence of drugs and crashing his car, but it’s not known whether he was suffering from any longterm health problems. His publicist Cindi Berger said Michael had not been ill prior to his death.
When Wham! broke up in 1986, Michael embarked on a successful solo career. He sold more than 100 million albums over the course of his career and was known for hits such as “Faith,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper” and “Last Christmas.”
Michael’s Wham! partner, Andrew Ridgeley, wrote on Twitter he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog,” while Sir Elton John, who collaborated with Michael and who was also a friend, posted on Instagram: “I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family, friends and all of his fans.” ~Alexandra Heilbron
— Andrew Ridgeley (@ajridgeley) December 26, 2016