George Michael dies at 53: 10 less known facts about the pop icon

Michael died of heart failure at the age of 53 on the Christmas day at his Oxfordshire residence

George Michael
British singer George Michael poses for photographers before a news conference at the Royal Opera House in central London May 11, 2011. Reuters

Singer George Michael "passed away peacefully" at his Oxfordshire residence on 25 December. His manager, Michael Lippman, said the singer died of heart failure. He was 53.

A statement released by his family, through the singer's publicist, said: "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."

Michael's former Wham! bandmate, Andrew Ridgeley, took to twitter to express his loss. He wrote, "Heartbroken by the loss of my friend Yog. "Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx"

Sir Elton John also posted a photo of himself with Michael On Instagram and wrote: "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans."

Here are 10 less known facts about the popular Wham! member:

  • Michael was born as Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on 25 June 1963 to a British couple in East Finchley, London. The family later moved to Radlett, Hertfordshire.
  • Michael befriended his future band partner Andrew Ridgeley while studying at Bushey Meads School in the neighbouring town of Bushey.
  • Michael started learning more about music when he worked as a DJ, playing at clubs and local schools around Bushey, Stanmore, and Watford during his young age.
  • Michael shot to fame following the success of his first band, Wham!, which was formed with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The band's first album Fantastic reached No. 1 in the UK in 1983.
  • Michael became the best-known artist in the 1980s and 1990s with his style of post-disco dance-pop and sold 100 million records worldwide.
  • In 1987, Michael began his solo career with a duet with the American singer Aretha Franklin.
  • In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.
  • Michael, when he was 19, confined to his band member and best friend Andrew Ridgeley that he was bisexual.
  • During an interview with The Advocate in 1999, Michael told the Editor in Chief, Judy Wieder his "conflict over bisexuality" after he fell in love with a man. "I never had a moral problem with being gay...I thought I had fallen in love with a woman a couple of times. Then I fell in love with a man, and realised that none of those things had been love," said the musician during the interview.
  • Michael was arrested in 2006 for possessing Class C drugs. He was later arrested several for driving under the influence of drug and for consuming cannabis.