Singer George Michael has been found dead in his home in Oxfordshire, South East England, dying peacefully in his sleep, his publicist has said.
Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire on Christmas Day at 13:42 London/GMT time (9.42pm, Perth/AWST) to find the 53-year-old deceased at the scene.
Police say there were no suspicious circumstances, although it is being investigated whether drugs – at least prescription ones – were involved. Last year, Michael publicly denied allegations about drug-taking, describing them as “highly inaccurate”, however he had experienced an up-and-down battle with prescription medication since suffering from pneumonia in 2011.
That year, Michael postponed a world tour, including several concerts in Australia, after being taken to hospital for treatment for pneumonia, his ailments including a long bout of atrophy, psychological trauma and anxiety.
The singer, famous for a string of hits with duo outfit Wham! including Last Christmas, and a highly successful solo career that kicked off with the single Careless Whisper, had indeed experienced his share of troubles in the latter part of his career.
He was regularly plagued with negative stories in the press, had been caught and charged with recreational drug use on several occasions, and once made news for courting sex in a public space in Los Angeles. Since the latter incident, Michael had been far less prolific in releasing material, although one subsequent single, Outside, and the title of the the album it appeared on, Ladies And Gentlemen, appeared to poke fun at the incident. Despite putting on a brave face, it seemed the incident continued to plague him.
In July 2015, UK press reported the artist was undergoing treatment for a cannabis addition and had checked into a rehabilitation facility in Zurich.
George Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in North London, sold more than 100 million records throughout his career which had lasted almost 40 years. His debut solo album, Faith, alone sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Earlier this month it was announced he was working with producer and songwriter, Naughty Boy, on a new album that was slated for release in 2017. He was also just beginning to rekindle his 13-year romance with Texan art dealer, Kenny Goss, who he had split with in 2009.
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. “The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time”.
Tributes continue to flow across social media for one of pop music’s most prolific and all-round talented singer/songwriters. Antonino Tati