British pop icon George Michael has died at the age of 53. Michael rocketed to stardom in the 80's as the lead singer of the pop group WHAM! and went on to enjoy a long and celebrated solo career. He will be remembered as a talented musician, trendsetter, and influential human rights activist.
George Michael died at his home in Goring, England over the weekend. According to his publicist, Cindi Berger, the British singer wasn't ill at the time he passed. No other details have been released.
Michael, with startling good looks and an easy stage manner, formed the boy band WHAM! with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980s. He enjoyed immense popularity early in his career as a teeny-bopper idol, delivering a series of hits such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," ''Young Guns" and "Freedom."
British pop icon George Michael has died at the age of 53.
Helped by MTV, which was an emerging music industry force at the time, the cheerful duo easily crossed the Atlantic and gained fame in the United States with Michael getting most of the attention.
He started his solo career shortly before WHAM! split, with the release of the megahit single "Careless Whisper."
Critics generally viewed Michael's earlier songs as catchy but disposable pop, and gave his solo efforts far higher marks. His first solo album, 1987's "Faith," sold more than 20 million copies. He remained a strong musical force for the next ten years, releasing dozens of records and touring in cities around the world.
Michael's musical material gradually shifted away from the poppy teen tunes that first brought him to stardom to more contemplative work. His solo ballads were well received by older audiences and musical critics alike.
The British icon sold well over 100 million albums during his long and colorful career. He earned numerous Grammy and American Music Awards, and recorded duets with legends like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Luciano Pavarotti and Elton John.
Michael was also active in a number of charities and helped raise money to combat AIDS, help needy children, and support gay rights.