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Former Wham! singer George Michael dies at age 53

LOS ANGELES — George Michael, the pop artist and former member of the group Wham!, has died at the age of 53.

The singer “passed away peacefully at his home,” according to a statement from his publicist provided to the BBC.

“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,” read the statement.

“The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage.”

Michael, whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, formed duo Wham! with schoolfriend Andrew Ridgeley; their hits included “Club Tropicana” and “Last Christmas.” He later went solo, with his first solo album, “Faith,” becoming a huge success. He sold more than 100 million albums over almost four decades.

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