In a statement released by his publicist Cindi Berger “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.”
Numerous celebrities have expressed their condolences for the loss of the music icon, Elton John said "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."
A heartfelt message by Mariah Carey “You were such an inspiration. I’m honoured to have not only been your fan, but a friend as well.”
Old Wham! band mate, Andrew Ridgeley took to twitter to say: “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. A xx “
Michael - who was born Georgios Hyriacos Panayiotou - rose to fame as half of pop duo Wham! and would later have a solo career that would see him sell in excess of 100 million albums. With such hits as Club Tropicana, Last Christmas and Careless Whisper, Michaels carved out a highly successful music career with 11 UK number one singles.
Despite his success, Michael’s life was not without controversy, a number of brushes with the law over drink and drug offences led for George to shy away from the lime-light. His arrest in 1998 for engaging in a lewd act in a public restroom in Beverly Hills forced the singer to have publicly announce his homosexuality, something that was tough on the singer according to his close friend Kim Bowden, “His coming out, which he did not plan and was not managed by any publicity machine, was a very painful thing for him. But the way he handled it, and the way he braved it, and the way he made it all right for them, empowered a generation of young men.”
On top of his personal life, arguments with his record label Sony over the promotion of his Listen Up Without Prejudice Vol 1 album caused a rift between the musician and his label. This eventually led to Michaels taking the company to court in an attempt to break his contract, Michael said he was “trying to get myself into a situation where I worked with a company that had some respect for me”. Despite his efforts, Michaels lost the court case, which prevented him from releasing any new material for two years, and was obliged to pay Sony $30m -$40m (£24m-£33m) to release him.
Despite Michael’s demons, the singer had been recently collaborating with pop producer Naughty Boy for his new album due to released in 2017, as well as his new film entitled Freedom, a documentary about the singer’s life. In the next few months we will no doubt be able to hear some of the new material that Michael was working on, which will no doubt delight his fans across the world.
Rest In Peace George.