George Michael Dies, Aged 53

George Michael

The former Wham! singer died peacefully on Christmas Day, says his publicist.

Singer George Michael has died. His publicist has said in a statement that the former Wham! singer and solo artist "passed away peacefully" on 25 December, aged 53.

Thames Valley Police said that the ambulance service attended a property in Goring, Oxfordshire at 13.42 on Christmas Day and that there were no suspicious circumstances.

The BBC reports that his publicist announced in a statement: "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."

Michael's partner in Wham!, Andrew Ridgeley, tweeted: "Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved."

The world of entertainment has reacted in shock, with Elton John taking to Instagram to express his "deep shock" at the news and write a tribute to his beloved friend, which read: "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 and all of his fans."

Fellow 80s icon Marilyn also led the tributes on Twitter.

George Michael was born in 1963 as Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, London and formed the pop duo Wham! with his friend Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. They had their first hit the following year with Young Guns (Go For It) and had hits such as Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Club Tropicana and Last Christmas. They were one of the first Western pop bands to play live in China.

When Wham! split in 1986, Michael forged a hugely successful solo career with albums such  as Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice (1990). While his musical career became more sporadic during the 90s and 00s, his personal life came to the fore after he was arrested for "engaging in a lewd act" in a public toilet in Beverly Hills. He also had legal troubles over possession of illegal substances and driving while under the influence of drugs.

In 2011, Michael cancelled live dates due to a bout of pneumonia and was hospitalised two years later after falling from his car while driving on the M1 motorway.