Prominent names from the music business are amongst those paying tribute to George Michael, who died yesterday (December 25) aged just 53.
The British singer/songwriter, who sold approximately 100 million records in his career with Wham! and as a solo artist, “passed away peacefully at home” according to a statement from his publicist.
Michael is believed to have died of heart failure according to his manager, Michael Lippman.
Michael released the bulk of his recorded music catalogue – across both Wham! and his solo output – via CBS/Sony labels.
These solo records included classic albums such as Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1 (1990), as well as Patience (2004).
A statement from Sony Music Entertainment read: “George Michael was a supremely gifted artist and a true music icon.
“Sony Music had the privilege to have worked with him over several decades on a number of his legendary releases, and we join the world in mourning the loss of a great superstar.
“George Michael was a supremely gifted artist and a true music icon.”
Sony Music Entertainment
“Our condolences go out to his family during this difficult time.”
Michael’s relationship with Sony wasn’t always harmonious: Patience arrived a decade after the artist lost a landmark court case against the company, in which he attempted to free himself from an eight-album contract signed in 1988.
In the case, he claimed that Sony deliberately under-promoted Listen Without Prejudice after his music took a less pop direction following the 14m-selling Faith.
Reacting to Michael’s death yesterday, Jon Platt – the CEO & Chairman of the songwriter’s long-term music publishing company, Warner/Chappell – issued a personal message, calling the star a “towering talent”.
Said Platt: “We are all deeply saddened to hear that George Michael has passed away. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and his friends.
“We join millions of fans in mourning the untimely passing of this towering talent. He was the epitome of the consummate pop star, a singer/songwriter who enthralled the world, always keeping us guessing where his music would take us next.
“George Michael was the epitome of the consummate pop star, a singer/songwriter who enthralled the world, always keeping us guessing where his music would take us next.”
Jon Platt, Warner/Chappell
“After the global phenomenon of Wham!, George transformed himself and his art, emerging as a solo superstar who then tirelessly broke new ground and set higher standards.
“He was an artist in every sense – a soulful vocalist, an unforgettable performer and, above all, a uniquely gifted songwriter.
“From pop tunes to dance anthems, from confessional ballads to social commentary, he perfected almost every kind of song, creating too many timeless hits to mention. His music will entertain, move, comfort and inspire people for generations to come.”
Universal Music released Michael’s last official album, 2014’s Symphonica, via Virgin/EMI.
The company has another tie to Michael’s history – owning the Virgin Records catalogue to which his Songs From The Last Century (1999) and 8m-selling Older (1996) belong.
“We’re in shock at the loss of one of the greatest singer songwriters.”
“We’re in shock at the loss of one of the greatest singer songwriters,” reads a Universal statement.
“The brilliance of his music, the soundtrack to so many lives, will live for ever. Our deepest condolences to George’s family and friends from everyone at Universal Music.”
Unsurprisingly for an performer so influential and respected amongst his peers, tributes have been pouring in from the artistic community.
Sir Elton John wrote on Instagram that he was “in deep shock” at the news of Michael’s passing.
“I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist,” he said. “My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans.”
Robbie Williams, whose first solo single after leaving Take That was a cover of Michael’s Freedom, wrote: “Oh God no …I love you George …Rest In Peace x”.
“I have lost a beloved friend – the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist.”
Sir Elton John
Boy George wrote: “He was so loved and I hope he knew it because the sadness today is beyond words. Devastating.
“What a beautiful voice he had and his music will live on as a testament to his talent. I can’t believe he is gone. I hope the Buddha will hold him in his arms.”
And Andrew Ridgeley, who with Michael formed duo Wham!, said he was “heartbroken” at the loss of his friend – affectionately using Michael’s nickname, ‘Yog’.
Said Ridgeley: “Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx”Music Business Worldwide