By Emily Yahr and Elahe Izadi
George Michael, the British singer who rocketed to fame in the 80s duo Wham! before embarking on a solo career, died at 53, his publicist confirmed.
"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 publicist said in a statement. "The family would ask their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."
Michael was an international pop icon in the 1980s who then became an even more a successful solo act. He first found stardom with Wham!, the group he formed with Andrew Ridgeley and responsible for infectious hits like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Careless Whisperer." In his solo years, he became known as a more serious singer who had massive hits such as "Faith" and "Father Figure."
The singer had been out of the spotlight for the last several years, after a life-threatening bout of pneumonia in 2011.