George Michael dies from suspected heart failure

George Michael
George Michael

Pop superstar George Michael's death at the age of 53 from suspected heart failure is being treated by police as "unexplained but not suspicious".

Michael, who rose to fame as the front man of Wham! and had chart-topping hits including Last Christmas, died peacefully at home, his publicist said.

The cause of the star's death was heart failure, according to his manager Michael Lippman.

Michael - whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.

Big names from the world of entertainment paid tribute after hearing about his death, which comes in a year that has seen the music industry lose some of its biggest stars including Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.

Sir Elton John posted a photograph of himself and Michael on Instagram, writing: "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."

A fan outside George Michael's London home

A fan outside George Michael's London home

Michael's former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was "heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog", an affectionate nickname used for the star.

He said: "Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx"

Michael formed Wham! with Ridgeley in 1981, and went on to massive success, releasing a string of hit singles including Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do), Club Tropicana, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, and Last Christmas.

They were the first Western pop act to visit China when they played there in 1985, before splitting in 1986, by which time Michael had already released a handful of solo singles.

On Sunday night, Thames Valley Police said they were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames shortly before 2pm, adding: "Sadly, a 53-year-old man was confirmed deceased at the scene.

"At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. A post-mortem will be undertaken in due course. There will be no further updates from Thames Valley Police until the post-mortem has taken place."

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."

As well as being known for his talents, Michael had a turbulent personal life, as brushes with the law and tales of drug use saw him hit the headlines.

He nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011, and after receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful appearance outside his London home and said it had been ''touch and go'' whether he lived.

Doctors had performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was unconscious for some of his spell in hospital.