Out singer George Michael has died at age 53, his publicist confirmed.
Michael, who had his first success as half of the pop duo Wham! in the early ’80s before launching a successful solo career, is said to have “passed away peacefully at home.”
“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,” said his rep in a statement. “The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”
Ambulances were ordered to the home, a 16th century manor in Goring in Oxfordshire. His death, according to police, is being treated as “unexplained,” but foul play is not suspected.
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, he is one of the most successful solo acts of all time, selling more than 100 million records.
He had admitted to issues with drug abuse in the past, and was treated for pneumonia in 2011. He confessed he was “touch and go” for a while.
Michael began dating former flight attendant Kenny Goss in 1996, and in 2005 the pair announced they were going to file a civil partnership. (They postponed it after negative publicity.) In 2011, Michael announced he and Goss had split two years prior.
The two apparently stayed in touch: This November, tabloids reported the two were spending time together again.
“It’s an exciting time for those of us who have been so worried over the last few years,’ said a close friend of the singer reportedly claimed.