The Grammy winner “passed away peacefully” on Christmas Day in his home in Goring, Oxfordshire, England, his publicist announced.
“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.”
He catapulted to fame in the 1980s as one half of the British band Wham! (with Andrew Ridgeley), and later became an influential solo artist and pop culture figure who was a friend to many in the fashion community.
In 1984, the Wham! song “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” became an infectious pop hit that had an unmistakable companion music video. He was clad in all white, with “Choose Life” emblazoned across his T-shirt, trousers and lace-up boxing boots by Lonsdale, a British sportswear company that specializes in boxing gear.
He paid homage to the muses of 1990s designers in “Freedom ’90” — a music video featuring supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford lip-synching to his lyrics.
Among the singer-songwriter’s many hits, he is best known for “Careless Whisper,” “Faith” and “Last Christmas.”
Some of Michael’s fans and friends paid tribute to him on social media, including Ellen DeGeneres, who called him a “brilliant talent.”
“I just heard about my friend @GeorgeMichael’s death,” the shoe designer tweeted. “He was such a brilliant talent. I’m so sad.”
“Project Runway” judge Nina Garcia tweeted: “I still believe that music is one of the greatest gifts that God gave to man. RIP George Michael.”