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George Michael dead: Singer dies of 'heart failure' in bed on Christmas Day aged just 53

Mirror logo Mirror 26/12/2016 Paul Cockerton

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Legendary singer George Michael died "peacefully" on Christmas Day aged just 53, his publicist has announced.

The police and ambulance service were called to his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire just before 2pm.

The sad news was broken in a short statement issued at 11pm by Michael Lippman, which 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."

Mr Lippman later revealed George was found "in bed, lying peacefully" and that he is understood to have died of heart failure.

George Michael: Life in Pictures He told Billboard that the exact time of death is not clear at this time, but there was "no foul play whatsoever".

Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire at 1.42pm today.

Police say they were treating the death as unexplained but there were no suspicious circumstances.

A statement said: “Thames Valley Police were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames shortly before 2pm Christmas Day.

"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.”

A date for the post mortem is yet to be scheduled.

Credits: Redferns © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Redferns George rose to fame as part of the 1980s pop group Wham!, whose hits include Last Christmas, Young Guns, Wake Me Up.. Before You Go Go and Club Tropicana.

He sold more than 80 million records worldwide in a career spanning four decades.

His 1987 debut solo album Faith sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

He achieved seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits in the US.

He seamlessly managed to transition to a credible singer/songwriter with timeless ballads like Careless Whisper with his debut solo album Faith, which catapulted him to super stardom in 1987.

All of the singer's albums have charted either No. 1 or No. 2 in the album charts.

George has won three Brit awards, two Grammys and four Ivor Novello awards in his career spanning over three decades.

Credits: Rex Features © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Rex Features In April 1998, he was arrested for lewd conduct in the men's room of a public park in Beverly Hills. He was fined and ordered to pay community service, and late came out as gay.

He said hiding his sexuality made him feel "fraudulent" and his eventual outing was "a subconsciously deliberate act".

He later reenacted the scene in his music video for Outside in 1998.

In September of 2008 Michael was arrested in a public lavatory in London's Hampstead Heath area for drug possession.

He said: "I want to apologise to my fans for screwing up again, and to promise them I'll sort myself out.

"And to say sorry to everybody else, just for boring them."

Last month George was reported to have rekindled his friendship with the man he declared the love of his life, Kenny Goss.

The couple were together for 13 years before the former Wham! star's split from the Texan art dealer in 2009.

George nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011.

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.

The singer collapsed at him home in May 2014 and was taken to hospital for emergency treatment.

His last tweet was in September, but last month a tweet on his Facebook page said he was "busy putting the finishing touches to his special documentary film ‘Freedom’."

Musician Nile Rodgers said on Twitter he had visited George just two days ago.

Meanwhile, Michael's 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 had been set to be reissued accompanied by a new film featuring Stevie Wonder, Elton John and the supermodels who starred in the video to his hit single Freedom! '90.

The movie, with the working title Freedom: George Michael, was to be narrated by Michael and set to feature Mark Ronson, Mary J Blige, Tony Bennett, Liam Gallagher, James Corden and Ricky Gervais.

The record was his second solo album, after the hugely successful Faith, and was arranged produced and almost entirely written by Michael, but did not feature him on the album cover.

It featured hits including Cowboys And Angels, Mother's Pride and Praying For Time and outsold Faith in the UK, where it went platinum four times but led to a court case with US record label Sony about Michael's frustration over how the album has been marketed.

Michael lost the case.

Celebrity reaction

Stars from the world of showbiz have paid tribute to the "truly brilliant" George Michael.

Pop stars from the former Wham! front man's heyday were joined by more contemporary names in declaring their sadness.

Celebrities react to George Michael's death Sir Elton John was among the shocked celebrities paying tribute to the star on social media last night. He wrote: “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. @GeorgeMichael #RIP.

Martin Fry, lead singer and songwriter with Look Of Love band ABC, said on Twitter: "Absolutely devastated to hear of the loss of @GeorgeMichael Truly brilliant talent £sad £sad £sad."

Contemporaries Duran Duran referenced the so-called "curse of 2016" - which has seen the deaths of rock and pop behemoths David Bowie, Prince and Rick Parfitt, posted on their official Twitter account: "2016 - loss of another talented soul. All our love and sympathy to @GeorgeMichael's family."

80s pop star Howard Jones, known for the song I'd Like To Get To Know You Well, said: "Can't believe George Michael has passed of the greatest singers and writers the UK ever produced. I'm really saddened ..a lovely man."

This year's X Factor winner Matt Terry said: "Noooooooooooooooo! I cannot believe this !!!! RIP George Michael".

Former X Factor winner Shayne Ward said: "Absolutely shocked to hear that one of my vocal idols @GeorgeMichael Has passed away. I adored his voice."

Matt Lucas, who worked with the singer during a sketch for BBC comedy Little Britain, said: "Well 2016, you had to just take one more, didn't you?"

Entrepreneur and television personality Duncan Bannatyne said: "George Michael has now been taken by the curse of 2016. Please make him the last. RIP."

While former Radio One disc jockey Tony Blackburn said: "Unbelievable, George Michael has died at the age of 53. RIP.This dreadful year goes on and on.So sad, a real talent."

Star Trek actor William Shatner said: "Is this year over yet? Too many people are passing away. Rest In Peace, George Michael."

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."

Fellow politician 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 @GeorgeMichael - my mama's favourite! was a pleasure to meet him so sad to hear the news."

Fellow pop star La Roux said: "Another one gone.... What a voice, what a songwriter."

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