World

George Michael dies aged 53

British pop icon George Michael, who shot to fame in the 1980s with Wham! and continued as a solo artist, died on Sunday at his home in England. He was 53.

The news was revealed by his publicist.

“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,” the statement said.

Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, he once played music on the London underground train system before forming Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981.

He died peacefully at his home in Oxfordshire, England, on Christmas Day.

BBC reported that Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire at 13:42pm.

Police are treating the death as unexplained but that there were no suspicious circumstances.

Michael had sold over 100 million albums in his career.

His first success was with Andrew Ridgeley in Wham!

For a period in the 80s, the duo was arguably the world's biggest pop group and they were the first Western band to play in mainland China.

After a couple of solo records (Last Christmas in 1984 and A Different Corner in 1986), Michael launched a hugely successful solo career with albums such as Faith and  Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1.

His private life also made headlines. His arrest Beverly Hills in April 1998 for a "lewd act" in a public lavatory became the inspiration for that years hit Outside.

In 2011, he postponed concerts after being hospitalised for pneumonia. 

Earlier in December it was announced that Michael was working on new material.

Source: Reuters, BBC

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