George Michael, the singer who shot to stardom in the Eighties as a member of Wham! and then as a solo artist, has died. His publicist said he “passed away peacefully at home,” according to the BBC. Michael was 53.
No cause of death was revealed, but police reported that he did not die under suspicious circumstances.
Michael sold more than 100 million albums in his lifetime, bridging teenybopper pop and R&B both with Wham!, a duo that also featured singer Andrew Ridgeley, and as a solo artist.
Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in London on June 25th, 1963. His first single with Wham!, “Young Guns (Go for It!),” came out in 1982, when he was 19, and became an immediate hit in the U.K. single, making it to Number Three there. They had a major international hit in 1984 with the danceable pop single “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” which went to Number One on both sides of the Atlantic. The duo also scored Number One hits in the U.S. with the soulful ballad “Careless Whisper” and the catchy “Everything She Wants.”
Although “Careless Whisper” appeared on Wham!’s Make It Big album, it came out as a George Michael solo single in 1984. Three years later, he put out his solo debut LP, Faith, which went to Number One on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to singles like the title track, “Father Figure” and “I Want Your Sex." The album sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. His follow-up, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, made it to Number Two in the U.S., thanks to “Praying for Time” and “Freedom ’90.”
His popularity as a solo artist waned in the Nineties, but he experienced a comeback with 2004’s Patience, which debuted at Number One on the UK albums chart and peaked at Number 12 on the Billboard 200. His 2014 album, Symphonica, which found him singing with a symphony, went gold in the U.K.
The BBC reports that Michael was reportedly working on a new album with producer and songwriter Naughty Boy earlier this month.
This story is developing.