George Michael has died at the age of 53, his publicist has confirmed.
The out singer, who launched his career as the front man of ’80s duo Wham! and went on to a successful solo career, is said to have died “peacefully at home.”
Michael came out as gay publicly in 1998. “This is as good of a time as any,” he told CNN‘s Jim Moret at the time. “I want to say that I have no problem with people knowing that I’m in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost 10 years.”
He was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, and over the course of his four-decade strong career sold upwards of 100 million albums.
It’s a sad day for music, amidst a year that has seen one beloved musician after another give their final encore.
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. There will be no further comment at this stage.”
Michael struggled with some highly publicized health problems over the years, including addiction.
Earlier this month, it was reported that he was teaming up to create a new album with producer and songwriter Naughty Boy.
Tributes to the singer are sure to be shared in the coming days, so in the mean time we’ll leave you with this: