George Michael has been reported died at his home in Oxfordshire at the age of 53.
Michael’s former Wham! bandmate wrote on Twitter that he was “heartbroken by the loss of my friend” who would be “4ever loved”. John, another friend and collaborator, wrote on Instagram of his “deep shock” at the loss of “the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist”.
He “passed away peacefully” at home, according to his publicist. His manager Michael Lippman said the singer had died from heart failure in bed.
Michael, who was set to release a documentary in 2017, rose to fame as half of Wham!, known for their hits Club Tropicana and Last Christmas. He had a highly successful solo career which included the songs Careless Whisper, Faith, Outside and Freedom! 90.
Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou had 11 UK number ones and sold more than 100m albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades. His last album, Symphonica, was released in 2014.
Thames Valley police said an ambulance had attended a house on 25 December in Goring, Oxfordshire, at 1.42pm. They said the death was being treated as “unexplained but not suspicious” and they would not comment further until after a postmortem.
The star’s publicist,in a statement, 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’s death has prompted an outpouring of emotional tributes with musicians, celebrities and politicians posting their memories of Michael on social media.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said Michael was “an exceptional artist and a strong supporter of LGBT and workers’ rights”. Nicola Sturgeon, thefirst minister of Scotland, was among the first to pay tribute, describing him as “an amazing talent gone too soon”.
Michael was born in London to Greek Cypriot parents and first achieved pop success with school friend Ridgeley in the pop duo Wham! They split up in 1986 and he went on to have a glittering solo career that also saw him collaborate with John, Aretha Franklin and Queen, after the death of Freddie Mercury.
In later years he had a series of arrests for drugs and driving offences and was banned from driving twice.