British singer George Michael has died, age 53.

According to the BBC, the ex-Wham! member "passed away peacefully at home".

In a statement, Michael'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."

Police told the BBC they were treating the death as unexplained but there were no suspicious circumstances. His publicist said he had not been ill. His manager Michael Lippman said the cause of death was heart failure.

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Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, formed pop duo Wham! in 1981 with school friend Andrew Ridgely.

The band burst out of the UK's 'Golden Age Of Pop' period with a run of three catchy club tunes: Young Guns (Go For It); Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do) and Bad Boys.

In 1984 they conquered the world with a global #1 smash Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.

While at the peak of the duo's success, Michael made the strategic move of releasing his first solo single. Careless Whisper was number one here in Australia, his home country and the US and was a top  three hit nearly everywhere else.

Also in 1984, Wham! released Last Christmas, it went to number two in the UK upon initial release and has re-charted every Christmas there for the past ten years.

Also in that year, Michael sang on Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? (which also featured Status Quo's Rick Parfitt who died a day before Michael).

In 1987, with the release of his Faith album, Michael cemented a solo career that would bring him a string a giant hits and top-selling albums: Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1; Older, Songs From The Last Century and, his most recent in 2004, Patience.

Michael's career was filled with controversy. He first made US radio nervous with the lyrics to his hit I Want You Sex and a follow-up to the first volume of Listen Without Prejudice was scrapped after a very public falling out with his label Sony.

The singer caused a scandal in 1998 the he was arrested by an undercover cop in a US public toilet for "engaging in lewd conduct". Not long afterwards, Michael went public about being gay.

Michael remained a tabloid target following further drug and alcohol-related arrests. 

The singer suffered health scares over the years as well, most recently sustaining head injuries from a car accident in 2013.