George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou; 25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016) was an English singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist who rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! and later embarked on a solo career. At the time of his death, Michael had sold over 115 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He achieved seven number-one songs on the UK Singles Chart and eight number-one songs on the US Billboard Hot 100. Michael won various music awards, including two Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, three American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, and six Ivor Novello Awards. In 2008, he was ranked 40th on Billboard's list of the Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time.
Born in East Finchley, Michael formed the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. The band's first two albums, Fantastic (1983) and Make It Big (1984), reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. Their hit singles included "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Last Christmas". Certifying themselves as a global act, Wham!'s tour of China in April 1985 was the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, and generated worldwide media coverage. Michael's first solo single, "Careless Whisper", reached number one in over 20 countries, including the UK and US. His debut solo album, Faith, was released in 1987, topping the UK Albums Chart and staying at number one on the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks. Four singles from the album—"Faith", "Father Figure", "One More Try", and "Monkey"—reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Faith was awarded Album of the Year at the 1989 Grammy Awards. Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) was a UK number-one and included the Billboard Hot 100 number-one "Praying for Time". "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", a 1991 duet with Elton John, was also a transatlantic number one. Michael went on to release the albums Older (1996), Songs from the Last Century (1999) and Patience (2004). In 2004, the Radio Academy named him the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.
Michael, who came out as gay in 1998, was an active LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. Michael's personal life and legal troubles made headlines during the late 1990s and 2000s, as he was arrested for public lewdness in 1998 and was arrested for multiple drug-related offences after that time. The 2005 documentary A Different Story covered his career and personal life. Michael's first tour since 1991, the 25 Live tour, spanned three tours over the course of three years: 2006, 2007, and 2008. Four years later, he performed his final concert at London's Earls Court in 2012. In the early hours of 25 December 2016, Michael was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, aged 53. A coroner's report attributed his death to natural causes.
Last Updated: June 9, 2021