George Michael Dies; Iconic Singer Was 53

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George Michael, the influential British singer and cultural icon, suddenly passed away over the Christmas holiday, his publicist confirms.

He was 53.

G-Mike

Michael's London-based publicist, Connie Filippello, issued a brief statement to the BBC, the first publication to report Michael's death.

"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 family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."

The music great's cause of death was heart failure, according to multiple media reports, though this has yet to be independently confirmed.

It is not clear when exactly Michael passed away.

Immediately, his maby fans, family and friends reacted to the latest stunning celebrity death of 2016, a year that cannot end fast enough.

George Michael Concert Pic

"I am in deep shock," Elton John wrote on Instagram. "I have lost a beloved friend, the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist."

"My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans."

Michael's career began back in the ’80s, both as the frontman for the British teen idols Wham! and then as a hugely successful solo artist.

He leaves a legacy of tremendous musical achievements, and also of well-documented professional struggles and personal scandals.

Michael’s first solo album, 1987’s Faith, was a cultural milestone thanks to huge hits in the title track, "I Want Your Sex," "Father Figure" and more.

The album's blend of pop, funk and soul created a sound that endures uniquely and powerful to this day and cemented his legendary status.

He became the first Caucasian artist to reach the top position on Billboard’s R&B chart, and he remained a fixture on the charts for years.

Michael wrote and produced almost all of his wildly successful work, setting a new standard for popular music stars and acts of his caliber.

Faith's follow-up albums, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, did not match his debut, but produced considerable hits and sales.

In 2004, the Radio Academy declared that Michael's music had been played on British radio more than that of any artist from 1984-2004.

Michael's career would be overshadowed, however, by his tabloid exploits, as questions of the singer's sexual orientation came to the forefront.

Most notably, thanks to an infamous moment in 1998.

That year, he was arrested for lewd behavior after revealing himself to a man, who turned out to be a police officer, in a public restroom.

Michael later became open about his homosexuality.

He was arrested several additional times between 2006-2010 for possession of drugs and driving under the influence, and battled health issues.

We will have more on Michael's tragic passing as information becomes available, and on the music world's reaction to the loss of a legend.

Our thoughts are with the singer's family and friends.

Click above to read through a multitude of celebrity salutes to Michael in the wake of his unexpected passing.

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