George Michael, Pop Music Icon, Is Dead at 53

He died peacefully at home on Christmas Day.
December 26, 2016, 12:41pm
PA/PA Wire.

George Michael, who went from teen idol to fully adult pop king in one of the most successful musical careers of the 21st century, died in his English home on Sunday afternoon. His publicist said he "passed away peacefully"; his manager said he died of heart failure.

Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, had 11 number-one hits in his native UK, including songs from his time with Andrew Ridgeley in Wham! like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," recorded when Michael was just 21. After Michael went solo he continued to churn out era-defining songs throughout the 80s, including "Careless Whisper," "I Want Your Sex," and "Faith." As he aged he turned slightly away from the spotlight that had shone so brightly on him, though he continued to perform and record—his last album, Symphonica, came out in 2014.

In the day since his death there have been a number of tributes to Michael, who quietly gave millions to charity while publicly campaigning for causes including AIDS awareness and gay rights. The public speculated about his sexuality for years until the singer came out in 1998 after he was arrested by LA police for a "lewd act" in a park. But even before that, he was a gay icon who was an inspiration to millions. After his death, fans gathered outside his homes to pay tribute in vigil.

Here he is performing "Careless Whisper" in 2008: