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Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016), known professionally as George Michael, was an English singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist who rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! He was widely known for his work in the 1980s and 1990s, including hit singles such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Last Christmas", and albums such as Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990).
At the time of his death, Michael had sold over 120 million records worldwide. Michael as a solo artist sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists. He sold a further 30 million records with Wham!. His debut solo album Faith sold more than 25 million copies. Michael achieved seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, including "Careless Whisper" and "Praying for Time". He ranks among the best-selling British acts of all time, and in 2008, Michael was ranked 40th on Billboard's list of the Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time. Michael won various music awards throughout his 30-year career, including three Brit Awards—he won Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, six Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations. Michael, who came out as gay in 1998, was an active LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser.
In 2004, the Radio Academy named Michael the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004. The documentary A Different Story (released in 2005) covered his career and personal life. Michael's first tour in 15 years, the worldwide 25 Live tour, spanned three tours over the course of three years (2006, 2007, and 2008). He performed the final concert of his life at London's Earls Court on 17 October 2012. In the early hours of 25 December 2016, Michael, aged 53, was found dead in bed at his Oxfordshire home. A coroner's report attributed his death to natural causes.
Michael stated that his early fantasies were about women, which "led me to believe I was on the path to heterosexuality", but at puberty he started to fantasise about men, which he later said "had something to do with my environment". At the age of 19, Michael told Andrew Ridgeley that he was bisexual. Michael also told one of his two sisters, but he was advised not to tell his parents about his sexuality. In a 1999 interview with The Advocate, Michael told the Editor in Chief, Judy Wieder, that it was "falling in love with a man that ended his conflict over bisexuality". "I never had a moral problem with being gay", Michael told her. "I thought I had fallen in love with a woman a couple of times. Then I fell in love with a man, and realised that none of those things had been love."
In 2004, Michael said, "I used to sleep with women quite a lot in the Wham! days but never felt it could develop into a relationship because I knew that, emotionally, I was a gay man. I didn't want to commit to them but I was attracted to them. Then I became ashamed that I might be using them. I decided I had to stop, which I did when I began to worry about AIDS, which was becoming prevalent in Britain. Although I had always had safe sex, I didn't want to sleep with a woman without telling her I was bisexual. I felt that would be irresponsible. Basically, I didn't want to have that uncomfortable conversation that might ruin the moment, so I stopped sleeping with them." In the same interview, he added : "If I wasn't with Kenny [his boyfriend at the time], I would have sex with women, no question". He said he believed that the formation of his sexuality was "a nurture thing, via the absence of my father who was always busy working. It meant I was exceptionally close to my mother", though he stated that "there are definitely those who have a predisposition to being gay in which the environment is irrelevant." In 2007, Michael said he had hidden the fact he was gay because of worries over what effect it might have on his mother. Two years later he added: "My depression at the end of Wham! was because I was beginning to realise I was gay, not bisexual."
During the late 1980s, Michael had a relationship with Chinese-American make-up artist Kathy Jeung, who was regarded for a time as his artistic "muse" and who appeared in the "I Want Your Sex" video. Michael later said that she had been his "only bona fide" girlfriend, and that she knew of his bisexuality. In 2016, Jeung reacted to Michael's death by calling him a "true friend" with whom she had spent "some of the best time of [her] life".
In 1992 he established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, a Brazilian dress designer, whom he had met at the 1991 concert Rock in Rio. Six months into their relationship, Feleppa discovered that he was HIV positive. Michael later said: "It was terrifying news. I thought I could have the disease too. I couldn't go through it with my family because I didn't know how to share it with them – they didn't even know I was gay." In 1993, Feleppa died of an AIDS-related brain haemorrhage. Michael's single, "Jesus to a Child", is a tribute to Feleppa (Michael consistently dedicated it to him before performing it live), as is his album Older (1996). In 2008, speaking about the loss of his partner Feleppa, Michael said: "It was a terribly depressing time. It took about three years to grieve, then after that I lost my mother. I felt almost like I was cursed."
In 1996, Michael entered into a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss, a former flight attendant, cheerleader coach, and sportswear executive from Dallas. They had homes in Dallas, a 16th-century house in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire and an £8 million mansion in Highgate, North London. In late November 2005, it was reported that Michael and Goss planned to register their relationship as a civil partnership in the UK, but because of negative publicity and his upcoming tour, they postponed it. On 22 August 2011, the opening night of his Symphonica world tour, Michael announced that he and Goss had split two years earlier.
In 2012, Michael entered a relationship with Fadi Fawaz, an Australian celebrity hairstylist and a freelance photographer of Lebanese descent based in London. It was Fawaz who found Michael's body on Christmas morning 2016.
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