Tributes pour in for George Michael
Pop star's death prompts an outpouring of tributes from celebrities
Sing the words: "Last Christmas..." and most people will know that the next few words will be: "I gave you my heart".
That's the powerful impression George Michael, who died on Sunday, left on millions around the world.
His 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."
His manager Michael Lippman told Billboard magazine that he died of heart failure.
Thames Valley Police said: "At this stage, the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. A post-mortem will be undertaken in due course."
The singer, who rose to fame with the band Wham! and sold more than 100 million albums in his career, was 53.
Singer Elton John published a picture of himself with Michael on his Instagram. "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist," the British star wrote.
Madonna posted a video of herself presenting Michael an award: "Farewell my Friend! Another Great Artist leaves us."
Michael was due to release a documentary next year after a period of living as a virtual recluse in which he hit the headlines for drug-related bizarre incidents.
Earlier this month, it was announced that producer and songwriter Naughty Boy was working with Michael on a new album for next year.
Michael was best known for his 1980s hits Last Christmas, Freedom, Careless Whisper and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, but his career spanned more than three decades.
He won a string of awards including two Grammies. His last album Symphonica (2014) rose to No. 1 in the charts.
The band Duran Duran, 1980s contemporaries of Wham!, posted on Twitter: "2016 - loss of another talented soul. All our love and sympathy to George Michael's family."
Wham! co-star Andrew Ridgeley said he was "heartbroken" by the death.
Canadian musician Bryan Adams tweeted: "I can't believe it. Such an incredible singer and a lovely human being, far too young to leave us."
Tributes poured in from outside the music world too.
Football presenter and ex-England captain Gary Lineker tweeted: "No, not George Michael as well. Another musical great leaves us this year."
Star Trek actor George Takei referred to some of Michael's greatest hits in a tweet, writing: "Rest with the glittering stars, George Michael. You've found your Freedom, your Faith. It was your Last Christmas, and we shall miss you." - AFP
Icons who died in 2016
jan 10: UK musician David Bowie, 69
Cause of death: Cancer
Dubbed as one of the most iconic rock stars in music history, Bowie was the ultimate style and musical chameleon, making his influence felt not only in his music but in his many acting gigs as too.
Jan 14: ENGLISH ACTOR Alan Rickman, 69
Cause of death: Cancer
Most recognise Rickman as the man who brought the character of Snape, one of the most complex of Harry Potter characters, to life. But the multiple award-winning actor's 38-year career saw him starring in a diverse range of movies including comedies, thrillers and even musicals.
Jan 18: US musician AND founder of the Eagles Glenn Frey, 67
Cause of death: Rheumatoid arthritis
Frey will always be known for starting the Eagles, one of the most influential bands of all times whose music remains popular today. He played a host of instruments for the band and sang lead vocals on some of their most famous songs like Take It Easy, Tequila Sunrise and Heartache Tonight.
Feb 19: American author Harper Lee, 89
Cause of death: Died in her sleep
Although it was published more than 50 years ago, the young and old are still reading To Kill A Mockingbird, Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Last year, Lee made headlines after she published her second book, Go Set A Watchman - a book that was touted as a sequel to her earlier novel.
April 21: American musician Prince, 57
Cause of death: Drug overdose
After dominating pop culture for more than 40 years, the world mourned the loss of Prince's purple reign. The loss of the Grammy-award winning rock star sparked tributes all over the world, with big names like Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Lady Gaga putting on special performances in honour of him.
June 3: American boxer Muhammad Ali, 74
Cause of death: Respiratory illness
The three-time world heavyweight boxing champion coined the immortal mantra "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" and only lost five times in a career that spanned 61 fights.
Aug 29: American actor, Gene Wilder, 83
Cause of death: Alzheimer's disease
Best known for his iconic role as Willy Wonka, Wilder had a long and storied movie career in other hits too, reviving a monster in Young Frankenstein and deceiving broadway in The Producers.
Nov 7: Canadian musician Leonard Cohen, 82
Cause of death: Died in his sleep
Described as incomparable and a performer who could hold an audience "in the palm of his hand", the poet and singer/songwriter influenced an entire generation. The Hallelujah singer explored religion, sex, politics and the human condition throughout his career - releasing 14 studio albums, five live albums and was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.