With just five days left until 2016 is in the history books, this year has seen more beloved iconic performers in film, TV and the music industry pass away than previous years, with some calling it the worst year on record. Fans are in mourning yet again, with the news that pop star George Michael has died. The singer, who rose to fame though the group Wham! before breaking out on his own, passed due to heart failure. Here's a statement released by the singer's family, through his publicist.
"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."
The Hollywood Reporter also received a statement from the Thames Valley Police Department about the musician's death. While the heart failure was described as "unexpected," there is no suspicious foul play suspected. Here's the Thames Valley Police's full statement below.
"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."
The singer's longtime manager, Michael Lippman, said he received a phone call on Christmas morning notifying him that George Michael had been "in bed, lying peacefully." Michael Lippman added that he was "devastated" by the singer's passing, and while an exact time of death has not been made clear, the manager confirmed there was "no foul play whatsoever." Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.
George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25, 1963 in Bushey, Hertfordshire, England, UK. He went to the Bushey Meads School where he would meet Andrew Ridgeley, who had similar aspirations to become a musician. They both were part of a short-lived ska band called Executive, before they went on to form the pop group Wham! in 1981. They released their first album entitled "Fantastic" in 1983, which reached #1 on the UK charts and produced a number of UK Top 10 singles such as "Young Guns", "Wham Rap!" and "Club Tropicana."
Their second album, "Make It Big," was released in 1984, and was a massive hit, certified 6x platinum just 10 weeks after the album was released. "Make It Big" featured hit singles, ""Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (No. 1 in the UK and US), "Freedom", "Everything She Wants", and "Careless Whisper." The group split up in 1986, after releasing a farewell single "The Edge of Heaven," and a singles compilation. George Michael would go on to have an incredibly successful solo career, with his first album "Faith" debuting in 1987, featuring the hit single "I Want Your Sex," which was quite controversial at the time. His follow-up album "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" arrived in 1990, with Vol. 2 debuting in 1992. He has sold more than 100 million records worldwide throughout his career, and became a staunch advocate for LGBT rights, after coming out as a homosexual in 1998.