Be it at shopping malls or parties, perhaps no X-Mas celebration is complete without English pop superstar George Michael’s silken voice crooning “Last Christmas I gave you my heart”. But post 2016, Christmas will never be same again.
George, 53, passed away in his sleep due to a suspected cardiac failure at his Goring home in England’s Oxfordshire on Sunday.
“Thames Valley Police were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames shortly before 2 p.m. 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,” said a statement issued by the police.
His Wham!.mate Andrew Ridgeley was grief-stricken and tweeted: “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved.”
“God didn’t give it, you did my old friend. Cleft with grief,” he said.
Another post by Ridgeley read: “#GM had a voice that would transport u, he was the finest singer/songwriter of his generation & has left the best of himself 4 us. RIP GM.”
Grammy winner musician Elton John also condoled George‘s death.
“I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. RIP @GeorgeMichael,” he posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Here are 10 interesting facts about the pop icon:
1. Born on June 25, 1963 at East Finchley in London, George Michael’s full name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.
2. His father Kyriacos Panayiotou was a Greek Cypriot restaurateur, while his mother Lesley Angold was an English dancer.
3. It was while studying at Bushey Meads School that George met Andrew Ridgeley and years later, in 1981, the duo went on to form popular band Wham!.
4. George’s first stint with music started with him working as a DJ at clubs and schools around Bushey, Stanmore and Watford.
5. George released his debut solo album “Faith” in 1987. The first single from it – “I Want Your Sex” – topped the music charts in Ireland and the Netherlands.
6. His band Wham! was the first Western pop group to tour China. The year was 1985.
7. He started a non-profit organization – Goss-Michael Foundation – with his long-time partner Kenny Goss in Texas for the promotion of arts.
8. When Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, George gifted them a cover of American singer Stevie Wonder’s 1972 song “You and I”.
9. After seven car crashes, George was banned from driving.
10. The pop icon was left-handed.
(Sources: georgemichael.com, The New York Times, GB Times)
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.