George Michael, who launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and became one of Britain’s most successful and iconic solo artists, has died.
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, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.
His most famous songs include Faith, Last Christmas, and Club Tropicana.
A photo posted by Elton John (@eltonjohn) on
The pop legend's death sent shockwaves across social media, with fans and celebrity friends alike taking to Twitter to pay homage to the singer.
Elton John’s tribute was among the most moving.
Sharing a photograph of himself alongside his friend and musical collaborator (the pair released the song Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me in November 1991), he 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 and all of his fans.”
Michael’s former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said that he was “heartbroken by the loss of my friend”, adding that he would be “4ever loved”.
Elle DeGeneres wrote: “I just heard about my friend George Michael’s death. He was such a brilliant talent. I’m so sad.”
James Corden added: “George Michael wrote Praying for Time 25 years ago but I truly believe its message means more now than ever.”
Unbelievable.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) 25 December 2016
RIP George Michael.
So sorry to hear of the passing of George Michael. My prayers and condolences go out to his family, friends and fans.— Gloria Gaynor (@gloriagaynor) 25 December 2016
Gloria Gaynor posted: “So sorry to hear of the passing of George Michael. My prayers and condolences go out to his family, friends and fans.”
DJ Tony Blackburn tweeted: “Unbelievable, George Michael has died at the age of 53. RIP.This dreadful year goes on and on.So sad, a real talent.”
And comedian Ricky Gervais added: “Unbelievable. RIP George Michael.”
Very sad to hear the news about George Michael. An incredible talent who brought joy to millions of us with his music.— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) 25 December 2016
Politicians joined the tributes. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn highlighted Michael’s role as a tireless advocate of LGBT rights.
“Sad to hear that George Michael has died. He was an exceptional artist and a strong supporter of LGBT and workers' rights," he wrote.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Very sad to hear the news about George Michael. An incredible talent who brought joy to millions of us with his music.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said: “This is just too awful. Such an amazing talent gone too soon. Wham was part of the soundtrack to my teenage years.”
Singer and stage actress Pixie Lott said: “Grew up listening to the beautiful and talented George Michael — my mama’s favourite! was a pleasure to meet him so sad to hear the news.”
“George Michael was a kind and gentle soul,” noted Ryan Reynolds.
LeAnn Rimes addressed the so-called ‘2016 curse’ in her own message, which read: “No No No No No! We have lost too many beautiful souls this year.”
Fellow pop star La Roux said: “Another one gone.... What a voice, what a songwriter.”
And Duran Duran, who rose to fame at the same time as Michael in the 1980s, wrote: “2016 — loss of another talented soul. All our love and sympathy to George Michael’s family.”
Police attended Michael’s home in Oxfordshire at around lunchtime on 25 December, Christmas day. They said that the singer’s death was being treated as “unexplained but not suspicious”. Michael’s manager said that he died from heart failure.