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George Michael Dead at 53, Publicist Says

(CBSNEWS)- British superstar George Michael has died, his publicist confirms to CBS News. He was 53.

“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 statement read. “The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.” 

Michael, whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, rose to fame as the lead singer of the pop-duo Wham!. He went on to enjoy a long and celebrated solo career lined with controversies.

Michael enjoyed immense popularity early in his career as a teenybopper idol, delivering a series of hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” ‘’Young Guns (Go For It)“ and “Freedom.” 

As a solo artist, he developed into a more serious singer and songwriter, lauded by critics for his tremendous vocal range. 

Michael, with startling good looks and an easy stage manner, formed the boy band Wham! with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980’s. Helped by MTV, the cheerful duo easily crossed the Atlantic to become popular in the United States.

In 2011, the singer had a life-threatening bout of pneumonia. At the time, he thanked the staff at Vienna General Hospital for keeping him alive in the intensive care unit. 

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