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R.I.P. George Michael: Singer Dies at 53 on Christmas Day

by Cailey Lindberg   Dec 27, 2016 09:39 AM EST

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Famed English singer, songwriter, and record producer George Michael passed away at the young age of 53 on Christmas Day. The cause of death was reportedly heart failure.

In a statement released to BBC, Michael’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. The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”

Billboard reports a statement by the Thames Valley Police that confirmed the news, saying, “Thames Valley Police were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames shortly before 2pm 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. A post mortem will be undertaken in due course. There will be no further updates from Thames Valley Police until the post mortem has taken place.”

Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Michael rose to fame with the group Wham!. His career in the music industry spanned nearly 40 years and grossed more than 100 million albums sold. During his time in Wham! the duo reached number one in the UK singles charts. Their song “Last Christmas” is currently number 16 on the singles chart.

Michael went on to craft solo albums, the first of which being Faith, released in 1987. His solo career produced singles “Careless Whisper” and “Fastlove,” as well as collaborations with Aretha Franklin and Elton John. He also won two Grammys as a solo artist.

But the singer began to make headlines for other reasons, and was arrested in 1998 for engaging in a lewd act in a public bathroom in Beverly Hills. The singer disclosed soon after that he was gay.

Michael also made headlines for his drug use, and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2006. He was also cautioned for drug possession in 2008. The singer also served an eight-week prison sentence for drug possession after he was in a car crash in 2010.

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