LONDON — British pop star George Michael has died, according to Britain’s Press Association (PA) news agency. The musician, who shot to fame with the 1980s duo Wham!, was 53 years old.
Michael later went on to have a successful solo career.
PA quoted a statement from Michael’s publicist that 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.”
Wham! scored big with hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Careless Whisper.” His 1987 debut album “Faith” sold more than 10 million copies.
In 1998, Michael told CNN in an exclusive interview that he was gay.
“This is as good of a time as any,” he told CNN’s Jim Moret then. “I want to say that I have no problem with people knowing that I’m in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost 10 years.”
Michael’s comments came shortly after he was booked for an investigation of misdemeanor lewd conduct and released on $500 bail. The singer was alone in the restroom of a Beverly Hills park when an undercover officer saw him allegedly commit the act.
Michael, whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, apologized to his fans for the alleged incident. He said he hoped they would stand by him.
“I don’t feel any shame. I feel stupid and I feel reckless and weak for having allowed my sexuality to be exposed this way. But I don’t feel any shame whatsoever,” Michael said.