“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 publicist confirmed to
“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’s U.S. publicist told PEOPLE that the musician had died of heart failure.
Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire at 13:42 GMT and authorities say there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, according to the BBC.
Michael had been working on releasing an album for next year with producer Naughty Boy as reported by BBC earlier this month.
— George Michael (@GeorgeMichael) February 11, 2016
Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, launched his music career in the 1980s as a band member of Wham! with childhood friend Andrew Ridgeley, and released hits such as “Last Christmas,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Careless Whisper.”
In 1987, he released his debut solo album, Faith, which sold over 25 million copies and catapulted him into success. His second album,
, — which featured the song “Freedom ’90” — celebrated its 25th anniversary in September 2015.
The hitmaker announced that he was gay in 1998, two years after entering into a relationship with Kenny Goss. Their romance ended 13-years later when Michael revealed at his August 2011 Prague State Opera concert that he had broken up with his longtime partner.
Three months later in November 2011, Michael was taken to hospital for treatment for pneumonia. Just the year before, he suffered a major car crash in which he was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana.
During his almost four-decades of fame, the singer sold 100 million albums worldwide and garnered three American Music Awards, three Brit Awards and two Grammy Awards out of eight total nominations.
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