George Michael, the British singer who rocketed to fame in the 1980s duo Wham! before embarking on a phenomenally successful solo career, died at 53, his publicist confirmed.
Mr. Michael was one of pop’s reigning stars in the 1980s and ’90s — first as a handsome, smiling teen-pop idol making lighthearted singles like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” with Wham!, then arriving as a grown-up pop sex symbol with his 1987 album “Faith.”
But Mr. Michael grew increasingly uncomfortable with the superficiality and relentless promotion of 1980s-style pop stardom.
He turned away from video clips and live shows; he set out to make more mature statements in his songs, though he never completely abandoned singing about love and desire.
In 1998, Mr. Michael came out as gay after being arrested on charges of lewd conduct in a men’s room in Beverly Hills, Calif.
He had long lent his name and music to support AIDS prevention and gay rights.
During interviews in later years, he described himself as bisexual, and said that hiding his sexuality had made him feel “fraudulent.”
He also described long struggles with depression.
Mr. Michael’s manager, Michael Lippman, told The Hollywood Reporter that Mr. Michael had died of heart failure “in bed, lying peacefully.”
“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,”
his publicist Connie Filippello said in a statement.
“The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time.
There will be no further comment at this stage.”