Pop star George Michael enjoyed an impressive career, selling more than 100 million records, but led a turbulent life marked with drug battles, run-ins with the police and health problems.
In last few years, Michael’s brushes with the law and stories of drug use made more news than his musical outings.
Michael, born Georgios Panayiotou, found fame as a teenager in the early 1980s after forming Wham! with school friend Andrew Ridgeley.
The pair enjoyed a string of hits, including ‘Last Christmas,’ ‘Club Tropicana’ and ‘Young Guns’ (Go For It) before ending their partnership in the mid ‘80s while still at the top of the game.
He had seven UK Number 1 singles and one of Wham’s best known hits was ’Last Christmas’, released in 1984.
Michael transitioned to a successful solo career with his album ‘Faith’ in 1988. The solo album sold more than 20 million copies.
The singer’s career spanned nearly four decades but he struggled with addictions to crack cocaine, alcohol and marijuana.
After years of refusing to be drawn on speculation about his sexuality, Michael disclosed he was gay in 1998 after being arrested in a public toilet in Beverly Hills, California, for engaging in a lewd act.
He followed it up with a music video for the single ‘Outside’, featuring a men’s bathroom transformed into a disco and policemen kissing.
In October 2006, he pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs, and in 2008 was cautioned for possession of class A drugs, including crack cocaine.
Michael entered a period of semi-retirement in 2008, quitting live performances and seeking a “quieter life” out of the public eye.
In September 2010, Michael received an eight-week prison sentence following an incident in which he crashed his Range Rover into a shop in north London. He was given a five-year driving ban after he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of drugs and possessing cannabis.
In 2011, Michael postponed a series of concerts after being taken to hospital for treatment for pneumonia. After 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.
The experience inspired the single ‘White Light’, which was his last Top 40 hit in 2012 and which he performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London.
In 2013, he suffered a head injury after falling from his moving car. He was airlifted to a hospital and was later photographed with a huge scar on the back of his head.
Michael was working on an album with British Asian producer Naughty Boy as well as a documentary chronicling his rise to fame with Wham and made a direct appeal on Twitter to his fans, asking them to send in their own videos and photographs dating from 1988 to 1996.
The documentary film entitled ‘Freedom’ was originally expected to be released in 2016 but was recently delayed until next March.
Michael passed away at the age of 53 due to heart failure on Sunday, December 25, 2016.