George Michael in 2006, Munich (Germany). Photo by insasse (own work.) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
George Michael in 2006, Munich (Germany). Photo by insasse (own work.) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Services were pending Monday for George Michael, a teenage music idol of the 1980s who struggled with drugs and controversies over his homosexuality.

The superstar died peacefully at his home from heart failure. He was 53.

A co-star of the pop duo Wham! and later a solo artist, Michael was best known for Wham! hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper” and “Everything She Wants.” His popular solo songs included “Faith” and “I Want Your Sex.”

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully,” a statement from his publicist read in an announcement on Christmas day. “The family would ask their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”

Besides his music, Michael also was known for being a proud gay man, despite having his homosexuality originally and humiliatingly first exposed when he was arrested for lewd conduct in a public toilet in 1998.

Michael had other legal battles during his career and struggled with drug use, noting at a press conference in 2011 that he felt he had let young people down with his misbehavior and had made it easier for others to denigrate homosexuals.

But what people remembered most on Christmas Day when his death was announced was only that they loved the man and his music, as fans and other mainstream artists alike took to praising and mourning him on social media.

“Rest with the glittering stars, George Michael,” actor George Takei posted online. “You’ve found your Freedom, your Faith. It was your last Christmas, and we shall miss you terribly.”

Musician Elton John posted a photo of the two of them together and wrote, “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, friends and all of his fans.”

The Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow also issued the following statement about the two-time GRAMMY Award recipient.

“We are deeply saddened,” Portnow said. “During an influential career that spanned nearly four decades, George became one of the most beloved pop craftsmen and respected entertainers. From the enormous success he achieved with pop duo Wham! to his influential solo career, his extraordinary talent had a profound impact on countless entertainers worldwide, and his creative contributions will live on forever.”

— City News Service

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