Beloved singer George Michael, who shot to fame in the 80s with the group Wham! and went on to a successful solo career, passed away at his home in Oxfordshire on Christmas Day. During his time with Wham! Michael was known for hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” “Careless Whisper” and “Last Christmas.” He launched his solo career starting with the album Faith in 1987 and went on to have a number of top five hits including “I Want Your Sex,” “Father Figure” and “Freedom.” George’s manager confirmed his death and told The Hollywood Reporter that he passed away peacefully in his bed from heart failure. He was just 53 years old. Here is the statement confirming his passing:

George Michael, the creamy-voiced English songwriter who sold tens of millions of albums as a member of the duo Wham! and on his own, was found dead on Sunday at his home in Goring in Oxfordshire, England. He was 53.

A police statement said: “Thames Valley Police were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames shortly before 2 p.m. Christmas Day. Sadly, a 53-year-old man was confirmed deceased at the scene. At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.”

Mr. Michael’s manager, Michael Lippman, told The Hollywood Reporter that Mr. Michael had died of heart failure “in bed, lying peacefully.”

“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 publicist Connie Filippello said in a statement. “The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”

Prior to George’s death it was reported that he was working on new music with producer Naughty Boy. That news came out just two weeks ago. (His last album, the compilation Symphonica, came out in 2014 and was of recorded live music which was not new.) There was a documentary film in the works about him, Freedom, which was due for release next March. It included unseen archival footage from 1997 of the making of his second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. He was planning an extended re-release of Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1 as well.

George was a pioneer in music and in his personal life. He came out as gay in 1998 following an arrest which essentially outed him, and in a 2014 interview he explained that coming out did not make his life easier. He was in a long term relationship with American flight attendant Kenny Goss, although the two split in 2009 they were thought to still be close. After his relationship with Kenny ended, George dated Australian hairstylist Fadi Fawaz for several years. George had a number of arrests later in life for minor drug offenses but he achieved sobriety in the past few years after attending rehab. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time. RIP George and thank you for all the music. We will never forget you.

This is one of the last Instagrams from George’s official page:

photos credit: WENN, FameFlynet, PRPhotos, Pacific Coast News

Via www.celebitchy.com

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