The great musical Death March of 2016 just keeps on going. George Michael, lead singer of WHAM! died at his home in Oxfordshire around 2 pm Christmas Day. According to reports from police, the superstar died of heart failure despite being otherwise healthy. In a statement, the star’s 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.”
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, Michael sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades. Earlier this month it was announced that producer and songwriter Naughty Boy was working with Michael on a new album. Also, the 80’s pop icon was set to release a documentary in 2017.
The singer nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011. After being treated in a Vienna hospital, he made an appearance outside his London home and said it had been ‘touch and go’ whether he lived. Doctors had performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was in a coma for a brief time while in the hospital.
Elton John lead the tributes to the star on social media by posting a heartfelt message along with a picture of the pair together on his Instagram page.
He wrote: ‘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. @GeorgeMichael #RIP
George Michael has for years been an openly gay man, however, he never actually came out intentionally. It took a public arrest for “lewd behavior” in a park in Beverly Hills and international shaming back in 1998 to do that. Only after the bust did he feel forced to admit to CNN that yes, he was gay.
“For some strange reason, my gay life didn’t get easier when I came out. Quite the opposite happened, really,” he tells the BBC in an exclusive interview back in 2014.
“The press seemed to take some delight that I previously had a ‘straight audience,’ and set about trying to destroy that. And I think some men were frustrated that their girlfriends wouldn’t let go of the idea that George Michael just hadn’t found the ‘right girl’ [yet]. Which is still what a lot of my extended family still think!”