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PICTURE GALLERY: Grieving fans set up shrine outside George Michael’s Highgate home

PUBLISHED: 22:19 26 December 2016 | UPDATED: 00:43 27 December 2016

Popstar George Michael’s sudden death has lead to an outpouring of grief with fans setting up a shrine for the star outside his Highgate home.

Popstar George Michael’s sudden death has lead to an outpouring of grief with fans setting up a shrine for the star outside his Highgate home.

Archant

Popstar George Michael’s sudden death has lead to an outpouring of grief with fans setting up a shrine for the star outside his Highgate home.

George Michael in September 1999. Picture: Michael Stephens/PA WireGeorge Michael in September 1999. Picture: Michael Stephens/PA Wire

Devastated fans placed flowers, messages and lit candles for George Michael outside his Highgate home.

They had started gathering around midnight last night as the news broke of his death and have been flocking to his home all day.

The cause of the star’s death was heart failure, according to his manager Michael Lippman, while his publicist said he “passed away peacefully at home”.

Currently six of Michael’s albums and four singles feature in the top 100 iTunes chart, while Wham!’s Last Christmas is number one in Spotify’s UK Top 50.

The singer - whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.

Big names from the world of entertainment paid tribute after hearing about his death, which 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.”

Michael’s former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was “heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog”, an affectionate nickname used for the star.

He said: “Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx.”

Friend Madonna paid her own tribute, posting an undated video on Twitter in which she embraced Michael on stage. In it she tells the audience: “He’s a great songwriter and he makes very classy videos, like me.”

Referencing several of his best known lyrics, she adds: “George, I want your sex, so be my father figure and I will have faith if we have to live hand-to-mouth. The diva himself.”

Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp and his wife Shirlie - a backing singer for Wham! with her musical partner Helen “Pepsi” DeMacque as part of the act Pepsi & Shirlie - both paid tribute, saying they were left devastated and heartbroken.

Kemp previously revealed how Michael was responsible for him getting together with Shirlie, to whom he has been married since 1988.

Their son Roman, Michael’s godson, told The Sun the family had planned to go to the singer’s house during the Christmas period.

Speaking before the death he said: “We’re going to George’s house on Boxing Day.

“To me, you do the Christmas rounds and you see all those people who are big influences on my life.

“I speak to him quite often. He speaks to my mum every week. He’s just family to me, fame is not a big deal.”

Michael formed Wham! with Ridgeley in 1981, and went on to massive success, releasing a string of hit singles including Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do), Club Tropicana and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

They were the first Western pop act to visit China when they played there in 1985, before splitting in 1986, by which time Michael had already released a handful of solo singles.

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