World pays tribute to global superstar George Michael


British singer George Michael performs on stage during his European tour, ?Symphonica” at the Palais Nikaia in the French riviera city of Nice on September 22, 2011. AFP PHOTO VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

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OXFORDSHIRE, England - Singer George Michael, who sold more than 100 million albums over a pop music career spanning almost four decades, has died at the age of 53, his publicist said Sunday.

"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," read a statement issued to the British media.

"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 BBC reported that an ambulance was called to Michael's home in Oxfordshire, England shortly before 2 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) Sunday.

The report added that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Michael's death.

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Michael had nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011. After receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful appearance outside his London home and said it had been ''touch and go'' whether he lived.

Doctors performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was unconscious for some of his hospital stay.

Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in London, Michael rose to fame as a member of Wham!, known for their hits "Club Tropicana" and "Last Christmas."

Michael was set to release a documentary next year to accompany the reissue of his 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. The film, which had the working title "Freedom: George Michael," was to be narrated by Michael and set to feature Mark Ronson, Mary J. Blige, Tony Bennett, Liam Gallagher, James Corden and Ricky Gervais.

Music world in mourning

Reaction continued to pour in after the announcement of Michael's death.

Robbie Williams was left stunned by the news, writing, "Oh God no...I love you George...Rest in peace."

Boy George, who fronted British band Culture Club, said Michael's death was "devastating."

"I am thinking of @GeorgeMichael's family, friends and fans right now," he wrote on Twitter.

"He was so loved and I hope he knew it because the sadness today is beyond words. Devastating.

"What a beautiful voice he had and his music will live on as a testament to his talent. I can't believe he is gone. I hope the Buddha will hold him in his arms."

Holly Johnson, lead singer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, said: "Sad to hear the news about George Michael, and so many great singers and songwriters we lost this year."

Music contemporaries Spandau Ballet said: "We are incredibly sad at the passing of our dear friend George Michael. A brilliant artist & great songwriter."

Michael's death comes at the end of a year that has seen the passing of several music superstars, including David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen.

Simply Red said: "Its hard to take in. One of our most talented singer songwriters has left us. RIP George Michael. Such sad, tragic news. 2016 please end."

Matt Goss, singer in the band Bros, said: "George Michael was part of the tapestry of my life. His songs his lyrics & his melodies, True pop royalty! Heartbroken, RIP dearest George."

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