Iconic pop legend George Michael has unfortunately passed away on Christmas Day. He died at his home in Goring, Oxfordshire, and he was only 53. Michael burst on to the pop scene in the early 1980s when he and schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley formed Wham! and between 1982 and 1986, the duo sold 25 million records as one of the hottest pop acts in the world.
Thereafter, Michael left for a highly successful solo career (ultimately selling more than 80 million records) however, he also encountered various personal and legal troubles along the way.
In 1997 Michael suffered the devastation of losing his mother, Lesley Angold. Within three years of that, he then lost his lover, Anselmo Feleppa, who died from an AIDS-related illness. The loss of Michael’s mother would have a profound effect on him as he went on to say:
“In terms of coming close to saying I don’t want to live, that would have been after my mum died. I had this overwhelming feeling that the best was behind me. I so loved my mum, and respected her. I swear to God, it was like I had a curse on me. I couldn’t believe how much God was piling on at once. There was so much death around me, I can’t tell you.”
In 1998 Michael was infamously arrested for “lewd behavior” in Beverly Hills. The incident ultimately forced Michael to declare his sexuality as being gay, which did not make things easier for him. Michael said:
“For some strange reason, my gay life didn’t get easier when I came out. Quite the opposite happened, really. The press seemed to take some delight that I previously had a ‘straight audience,’ and set about trying to destroy that. And I think some men were frustrated that their girlfriends wouldn’t let go of the idea that George Michael just hadn’t found the ‘right girl.’ Which is still what a lot of my extended family still think!”
Subsequently, in 2006 Michael was arrested in London on a drug-related charge and then in 2010 he drove into a storefront which led to charges of possession of cannabis and being unfit to drive. For the 2010 incident, Michael was sentenced to 8 weeks in jail of which he served one half of that. Fortunately for Michael, that incident appeared to have been the last straw for him. He said:
“I realized it had to be something to do with me. It shook me out of my denial. After that crash happened, I started drug counseling and was two weeks in detox, none of which I made public. It feels so completely behind me now. It really does.”
In 2011 Michael battled pneumonia which included undergoing a tracheotomy. In 2013 he suffered a head injury after falling from a motor vehicle.
However, despite all the legal difficulties and personal struggles Michael continued to place well on the charts and in the end he had a brilliant career. In fact, Michael hit #1 on the U.K. singles charts with the following songs:
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Wham!) (1984)
Freedom (Wham!) (1984)
Careless Whisper (Wham!) (1984)
I’m Your Man (Wham!) (1985)
The Edge Of Heaven (Wham!) (1986)
A Different Corner (1986)
I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (w/Aretha Franklin) (1987)
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (w/Elton John) (1991)
Five Live EP (w/Queen and Lisa Stansfield) (1993)
Jesus To A Child (1996)
Beyond many other accolades, Michael also gained perennial December notoriety for Last Christmas (Wham!) (1986) and most recently, he even has been credited for helping start James Corden’s (The Late Late Show) popular segment entitled Carpool Karaoke. In fact, George Michael was featured in the first installment and you can check out the video below:
In the end George Michael will be greatly missed as he went too soon. Moving tributes to the man are already prevalent on social media as celebrities such as Corden and Elton John, to name a few, have already spoken on the passing of Michael and what he meant to them. Michael unfortunately joins other musical icons that we have lost this year including Prince, David Bowie, and Glen Frey. Rest in peace George Michael.