Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter George Michael “passed away peacefully at home” in Goring in Oxfordshire on Sunday, his publicist told the BBC. He was 53.
Michael’s manager told the AP the cause of death was heart failure. A statement from his publicist said, “There will be no further comment at this stage.”
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, London, Michael rose to fame at age 18 as half of the singing duo Wham!, partnering with longtime friend Andrew Ridgeley to sell more than 25 million albums worldwide from 1982 to 1986. Their first single to to top the charts was “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” followed soon after by “Careless Whisper.”
Following the break-up of Wham! in spring of 1986, Michael’s debut solo album, 1987’s Faith, sold more than 20 million copies.
Michael’s two Grammy wins came via his duet with Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (named Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, Duo or Group), and Faith, which won Album of the Year in 1989.
Michael’s music has been part of several TV series, including Eli Stone (where his songs served as the title character’s “inner soundtrack” during Season 1) and most recently Scream Queens and the British Strictly Come Dancing. He played himself in a 2007 episode of HBO’s Extras, and appeared in The Catherine Tate Show‘s Christmas special in England that same year.
Michael was the subject of James Corden’s very first “Carpool Karaoke,” which aired as part of a 2011 Comic Relief special:
Also, if only because it was one of the great music videos of the time, here’s “Freedom ’90”: