Speed Reads

Freedom

George Michael is dead at 53

Singer and musician George Michael died at his home in Goring, England, on Christmas, the BBC reports; his publicist confirmed the death. He was 53, and wasn't ill. No cause was given, but the Thames Valley Police said the singer's death "is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious." Michael found fame with the duo Wham! in the early 1980s, alongside Michael's school friend Andrew Ridgeley, and after a string of hits including "Careless Whisper," "Freedom," and "Last Christmas," Michael broke out on his own in 1987 with the hit album Faith and then Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 in 1990. He sold more than 100 million albums throughout his long career, and was working on a new record.

Born Georgios Panayiotou in north London, Michael came out as gay in the late 1990s, after an arrest for public indecency, and had trouble with drugs and driving under the influence over the past decade. There is a documentary about him, Freedom, coming out in March. You can learn more, and hear a sampling of his career, in the CNN remembrance and appreciation below. Peter Weber