Fans gather at singer George Michael’s Highgate home following his death on Christmas Day.
PUBLISHED: 01:02 26 December 2016 | UPDATED: 08:57 26 December 2016
Grieving fans began gathering tonight outside the Highgate home of singer George Michael who has died at the age of 53.
The singer, who rose to fame as a member of Wham! and had chart-topping hits including Last Christmas, died peacefully at his country home in Oxfordshire, his publicist said.
His death is being treated by police as “unexplained but not suspicious”.
Fans were in tears as they gathered outside his London home in The Grove, Highgate, from around 11pm. A security guard, posted outside the Georgian house, said the property was empty as Mr Michael had passed away in Oxfordshire.
One female fan, who travelled from Watford and went to Kingsbury High school, where the singer had been a pupil, said: “Not George too. I have lost too many of my childhood heroes this year. Bowie, Prince and now George. I feel devastated.”
The star, whose real name is Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, had recently been filming a documentary into his life. TV crews had been seen over the last weeks at his Highgate home.
Thames Valley Police said they were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames shortly before 2pm, adding: “Sadly, a 53-year-old man was confirmed deceased at the scene.
“At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. A post-mortem will be undertaken in due course. There will be no further updates from Thames Valley Police until the post-mortem has taken place.”
The star’s publicist said: “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.”
Meanwhile celebrities began paying tribute to the star.
George Michael, who grew up in Edgware, sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.
Big names from the world of entertainment have paid tribute to him after hearing about his death - a death that comes in a year that has seen the music industry lose some of its biggest stars including Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.
Sir Elton John posted a photograph of himself and Michael on Instagram, writing: “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.”
Former Radio One disc jockey Tony Blackburn said: “Unbelievable, George Michael has died at the age of 53. RIP.This dreadful year goes on and on.So sad, a real talent.”
Musician Bryan Adams tweeted: “RIP George Michael. I can’t believe it. Such an incredible singer and a lovely human being, far too young to leave us.”
Michael nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011, and 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 had performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was unconscious for some of his spell in hospital.
A musical great known for both his chart-topping hits and his turbulent personal life, George Michael was a giant of popular culture.
The Wham! singer and solo performer enjoyed a glittering chart career, having sold more than 100 million records including seven number one singles in the UK, with tracks such as Careless Whisper and Faith.
He carved out an international name for himself, but brushes with the law and tales of his drug use increasingly made more impact than his musical output.
George Michael received an eight-week prison sentence following an incident the previous July in which he famously crashed his Range Rover into a branch of Snappy Snaps in Hampstead. He was also given a five-year driving ban after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of drugs and possessing cannabis.
But recently Michael had been looking to the future shortly before his death,
His 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 had been set to be reissued accompanied by a new film featuring Stevie Wonder, Elton John and the supermodels who starred in the video to his hit single Freedom! ‘90.
The movie, with 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.
The record was his second solo album, after the hugely successful Faith, and was arranged produced and almost entirely written by Michael,