Pop idol and superstar performer George Michael, who forged a career as a successful solo artist after a wild ride with Wham! in the ’80s, died at his home in England on Sunday. He was just 53.
Wham! was one of the most successful pop duos ever, topping even Simon & Garfunkel in the mid-80s with singles like ”Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, ”Careless Whisper” and “Last Christmas.”
Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, formed Wham! in 1981, with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley, and they went on to produce “some of the most memorable pop songs and dance-floor favorites of the 1980s,” says Newsweek.
Medics were called to Michael’s property in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire on Christmas Day. According to a BBC report, Michael’s publicist said the singer died “peacefully at home” while his manager Michael Lippman added that he’d died of heart failure.
“Also paying tribute, contemporaries Duran Duran referred to the loss of ‘another talented soul’ in a year which which has seen the deaths of several major-league rock and pop stars, among them David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen,” notes Alice Ross.
During a career spanning almost four decades, Michael sold more than 100 million albums and scored eleven No. 1 hits in the United Kingdom, reports The Guardian. Michael’s last album, Symphonica, was released in 2014.
And if you’re a fan of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, you can thank George Michael who was the original guest on an early version of the show.