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George Michael, pop idol died peacefully at his home on Sunday at 53.
The British singer came to prominence with the male pop duo Wham!, before embarking on a successful solo career which began with singles such as Careless Whisper and Faith. His striking good looks, soaring anthems wed to dance-club beats and eventual status as a gay icon placed him among the decade’s most prominent pop culture figures. Michael’s musical career spanned four decades, generating numerous No. 1 hits.
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in London, Michael formed Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The duo took the world by storm with number-one hits, including Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Freedom.
Michael’s first solo single Careless Whisper also proved to be a hit, which prompted fans to speculate the duo’s break-up. They did just that in 1986, announcing their separation. Michael was only 22 years old, while Ridgeley aged 23.
In 1987, Michael released his debut solo album Faith which sold over 25 million copies worldwide and earned him a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1988.
His second album, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, was released in 1990 but sold only 8 million copies worldwide. It did, however, manage to win Best British Album at the BRIT Awards in 1991.
Michael sued his record label Sony in 1994 in a bid to get out of his contract. He said the company did not properly marketing Listen Without Prejudice, Volume I and calling his 15-year contract with the company professional slavery. He ended up losing the legal battle.
The pop music star had his fair share of personal struggles, which included the devastation of losing his boyfriend Anselmo Feleppa to AIDS in 1993. Michael then lost his mother to cancer in 1997.
Michael was arrested in 1998 by Los Angeles police for a public sex act, in a well-publicized incident that was recreated his video for “Outside” in the same year.
In 2011, Michael suffered acute pneumonia and had to be hospitalised while on tour in Vienna.
In November, Michael was putting the finishing touches on a documentary called Freedom, which is due to hit screens March 2017. It was only two weeks ago that plans for a new album came to light, with Michael collaborating with Beyonce producer Naughty Boy, real name Shahid Khan.