BRITISH pop singer George Michael, who rose to fame with the band Wham! and sold more than 100 million albums in his career, has died aged 53, 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 publicist 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.”
Michael – whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, was set to release a documentary in 2017.
Michael nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011. After receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful 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 unconscious for some of his spell in hospital.
Meanwhile, Michael’s 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 had been set to be reissued accompanied by a new film featuring Stevie Wonder, Elton John and the supermodels who starred in the video to his hit single Freedom! ‘90.
The movie, with the working title Freedom: George Michael, was to be narrated by Michael and set to feature Mark Ronson, Mary J Blige, Tony Bennett, Liam Gallagher, James Corden and Ricky Gervais.
The record was his second solo album, after the hugely successful Faith, and was arranged produced and almost entirely written by Michael, but did not feature him on the album cover.