Chart-top­ping pop singer Ge­orge Michael dies at age 53.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VIC­TOR MOR­TON

Su­per­star ’80s mu­si­cian Ge­orge Michael died Sun­day at the age of 53 of heart fail­ure, ac­cord­ing to his man­ager.

The smooth-voiced singer of such hits as “Care­less Whis­per” and “Last Christ­mas,” the BBC re­ported, died over Christ­mas week­end at his home at Gor­ing in the English county of Ox­ford­shire.

“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,” publi­cist Con­nie Filip­pello said in a state­ment is­sued to mul­ti­ple news out­lets.

Ac­cord­ing to The Associated Press, man­ager Michael Lipp­man said the death was the re­sult of heart fail­ure.

The po­lice is­sued a state­ment ear­lier de­clin­ing to spec­ify a cause of death, say­ing only that it was “un­ex­plained but not sus­pi­cious” and “a post mortem will be un­der­taken in due course.”

Born Ge­or­gios Kyr­i­a­cos Panayiotou in Lon­don, Mr. Michael be­came fa­mous as the front­man of the duo Wham! with part­ner An­drew Ridge­ley. The pair had a string of No. 1 hits in the mid-1980s in­clud­ing “Wake Me Up Be­fore You Go Go” and “Ev­ery­thing She Wants.”

On Sun­day, Mr. Ridge­ley tweeted about Mr. Michael us­ing a Greek nick­name for “Ge­or­gios” and say­ing that he was “heart­bro­ken at the death of my beloved Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of mu­sic, the world at large. 4ever loved.”

Af­ter Wham! broke up, Mr. Michael went on to even more suc­cess as a solo act, top­ping the charts with songs in­clud­ing “Faith,” “Fa­ther Fig­ure” and his re­make duet with El­ton John of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

“I am in deep shock,” Mr. John wrote on In­sta­gram. “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.”

All told, Mr. Michael hit No. 1 on the U.S. chart 10 times, topped the Bri­tish chart 11 times and sold more than 100 mil­lion records world­wide.

Though it was widely be­lieved from the start of his suc­cess that he was gay, Mr. Michael did not come out of the closet un­til the late 1990s.

In 1998, he was ar­rested on charges of cruis­ing for anony­mous sex in a men’s room in Bev­erly Hills. In 1999, he told The Ad­vo­cate that it was “fall­ing in love with a man that ended” his con­flicted bi­sex­u­al­ity.

Iron­i­cally, one of his first brushes with con­tro­versy was over the hetero­sex­ual solo hit “I Want Your Sex” in 1987. The ex­plicit lyrics (“not ev­ery­body does it, but ev­ery­body should”) and risque video (the first shot is of a woman in black un­der­wear) caused many ra­dio sta­tions, along with MTV, to refuse to play it or re­strict it to cer­tain hours. The video also fea­tures a shirt­less Mr. Michael writ­ing “ex­plore” and “monogamy” in lip­stick on the back of girl­friend Kathy Je­ung.

Mr. Michael had a his­tory of health prob­lems, in­clud­ing a 2011 bout with pneu­mo­nia that put him in a coma and re­sulted in a tra­cheotomy. Mr. Michael said af­ter­ward that his sur­vival was “touch and go.”

He also had sev­eral con­vic­tions for drug pos­ses­sion and driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence, which cul­mi­nated in a four-week jail sen­tence in 2010.

A doc­u­men­tary was planned for re­lease about Mr. Michael’s ca­reer, with the singer nar­rat­ing it. The ten­ta­tive work­ing ti­tle was “Free­dom: Ge­orge Michael,” af­ter a ti­tle he used for two songs, one with Wham! in 1986 and one as a solo act in 1990.


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