It has been confirmed by several media outlets including the BBC and TMZ that legendary singer-songwriter George Michael died Christmas Day at his residence in the U.K. No cause of death has been revealed; however, Michael's publicist released the following statement:
"It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over Christmas period."
Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, has had his music sampled throughout the years by hip-hop luminaries ranging from LL Cool J to AZ, Nas, and Foxxy Brown. Michael ascended to fame first as a member of the Grammy Award–winning group Wham! with Andrew Ridgey. In 1987 Michael exploded as an international music icon and sex symbol with his solo debut, the blockbuster Faith. That album alone has sold over 20 million copies, and the singer's catalog has amassed sales north of 100 million. Michael's works have also spawned seven No. 1 hits in the U.K. and eight in the U.S.
Aside from his musical accolades, Michael garnered several scandalous news headlines for his run-ins with the law, chief among them his 1998 arrest for lewd behavior in a Beverly Hills public restroom. He publicly announced that he was gay in the aftermath. Despite his battles with drugs and alcohol, Michaels continued to forge on with his career, working with some of the biggest stars including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Mary J. Blige.