FILE PHOTO: British singer and actor George Michael waves as he leaves a news conference to introduce the film 'George Michael: A Different Story' in Berlin. Picture: Reuters

London – George Michael has died at the age of 53.

The pop legend passed away at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, South East England, on Christmas Day

George's publicist confirmed the sad news, saying in a statement: "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."

At the time of writing no other details about George's death are known.

George – who had battled alcohol and drug issues in his life – began his career as one half of duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley best known for hits such as 'Club Tropicana', 'Careless Whisper' and festive classic 'Last Christmas'.



The singer – real name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou – then went on to become one of the world's biggest solo stars in a career that spanned across four decades.

George previously had a major health scare in late 2011 when he contracted pneumonia but after being treated at a Vienna hospital he made a recovery but later admitted it had been "touch and go" whether he lived.

The news of his tragic death has prompted tributes from some of the 'Fast Love' hitmaker's famous friends and pop peers.

Sir Elton John – who released a version of 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' in 1991 with George – posted a touching message along with a photo of the pair together on his Instagram page.

Elton wrote: "I am in deep shock. 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. @GeorgeMichael #RIP (sic)"

Ricky Gervais – who cast George in an episode of his sitcom 'Extras' – wrote on Twitter: "Unbelievable. RIP George Michael."

ABC singer Martin Fry tweeted: "Absolutely devastated to hear of the loss of @GeorgeMichael Truly brilliant talent #sad #sad #sad. (sic)"

Mark Ronson also took to Twitter to remember George, posting: "Other than a global pop phenom, George Michael was one of the true British soul greats. a lot of us owe him an unpayable debt. bye George xx (sic)"

Bang Showbiz