Earlier today, Christmas Day, pop star George Michael was reportedly found dead at his Oxfordshire home in England. He was only 53 years of age. According to the Hollywood Reporter, who quoted the singer's manager Michael Lippman, the former member of Wham! and solo singing superstar died of a heart attack at his Goring-on-Thames home in the early afternoon. Meanwhile Michael's publicist Connie Filippello issued a statement today that read, “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.”
George Michael first came to fame along with Andrew Ridgeley as part of the dance pop duo Wham! that formed in 1981. An outgrowth of a little known, short-lived (1979 - 1980) ska quartet called The Executive, the pared down duo of Wham! scored a string of hits in their five years together in which they sold 25 million records around the world. Their hit singles (more in the UK than in the US) included "Young Guns (Go For It)," "Wham Rap," "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Freedom," "Last Christmas," and "I'm Your Man." Following the breakup of Wham! in 1986, Michael first collaborated (thanks to Clive Davis) with one of his heroes, Aretha Franklin, on the duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." Then he threw himself fully into writing and recording what would be a more mature sound than Wham! and a an even more successful solo career (selling 80 million records!) beginning with his 1987 landmark debut solo album Faith. However it should be noted that back in 1984, while still a member of Wham!, he released his first solo single: the hit "Careless Whisper" which is sometimes also credited to Wham! as it appears on the group's 1984 album Make It Big.