'I loved him very, very much' - George Michael's former partner Kenny Goss devastated at death of 'kind and generous man'
George Michael's former partner Kenny Goss has spoken of his heartbreak at the pop superstar's shock death.
The 53-year-old musician, who was discovered dead on Christmas Day, was described by Goss as "an extremely kind and generous man".
Michael, who rose to fame as the front man of Wham! and had chart-topping hits including Last Christmas and Freedom is suspected to have died of heart failure.
The star officially announced in 2011 that his turbulent 15-year relationship with Goss had ended - though he said that the pair had actually split around two years earlier.
In a statement Goss said: "I'm heartbroken with the news that my dear friend and long time love George Michael has passed.
"He was a major part of my life and I loved him very, very much. He was an extremely kind and generous man.
"The beautiful memories and music he brought to the world will always be an important part of my life and those who also loved and admired him."
The couple's relationship was revealed when Michael was forced to come out as gay after being arrested in public toilets in Beverly Hills, California, in 1998 for engaging in a lewd act.
Michael's death, which is being treated by police as "unexplained but not suspicious", has prompted an outpouring of shock and sadness from celebrity friends and fans.
The cause of the star's death was heart failure, according to his manager Michael Lippman, while his publicist said he "passed away peacefully at home".
The singer - whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.
Big names from the world of entertainment paid tribute after hearing about his death, which comes in a year that has seen the music industry lose some of its biggest stars including Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.
Sir Elton John posted a photograph of himself and Michael on Instagram, writing: "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans."
Michael's former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was "heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog", an affectionate nickname used for the star.
He said: "Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx."
Friend Madonna paid her own tribute, posting an undated video on Twitter in which she embraced Michael on stage. In it she tells the audience: "He's a great songwriter and he makes very classy videos, like me."
Referencing several of his best known lyrics, she adds: "George, I want your sex, so be my father figure and I will have faith if we have to live hand-to-mouth. The diva himself."
Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp and his wife Shirlie - a backing singer for Wham! with her musical partner Helen "Pepsi" DeMacque as part of the act Pepsi & Shirlie - both paid tribute, saying they were left devastated and heartbroken.
Kemp previously revealed how Michael was responsible for him getting together with Shirlie, to whom he has been married since 1988.
Their son Roman, Michael's godson, told The Sun the family had planned to go to the singer's house during the Christmas period.
Speaking before the death he said: "We're going to George's house on Boxing Day.
"To me, you do the Christmas rounds and you see all those people who are big influences on my life.
"I speak to him quite often. He speaks to my mum every week. He's just family to me, fame is not a big deal."
Michael formed Wham! with Ridgeley in 1981, and went on to massive success, releasing a string of hit singles including Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do), Club Tropicana and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.
They were the first Western pop act to visit China when they played there in 1985, before splitting in 1986, by which time Michael had already released a handful of solo singles.
Fans and neighbours gathered at his homes in Highgate, north London and Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire to pay tribute to an artist they described as a "huge inspiration".
People visited to lay flowers, light candles and recalled memories of listening to his music, seeing him live or meeting him.
Currently six of Michael's albums and four singles feature in the top 100 iTunes chart, while Wham!'s Last Christmas is number one in Spotify's UK Top 50.
As well as being known for his talents, Michael had a turbulent personal life, as brushes with the law and tales of drug use saw him hit the headlines.
He nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011, and after receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful appearance outside his London home and said it had been ''touch and go'' whether he lived.
Doctors had performed a tracheotomy to keep his airways open and he was unconscious for some of his spell in hospital.
Meanwhile, Michael's 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 had been set to be reissued accompanied by a new film featuring Stevie Wonder, Sir Elton and the supermodels who starred in the video to his hit single Freedom! '90.
An appeal for archive footage and imagery from fans including "mass Wham! hysteria" had been made on Michael's website in August, with a post on his official Facebook page saying: "George is personally seeking rare Wham! & George Michael photos and video and we need your help!"
The movie, with the working title Freedom: George Michael, was to be narrated by Michael and set to feature Mark Ronson, Mary J Blige, Tony Bennett, Liam Gallagher, James Corden and Ricky Gervais.
The record was his second solo album, after the hugely successful Faith, and was arranged, produced and written almost entirely by Michael, but did not feature him on the album cover.
It featured hits including Cowboys And Angels, Mother's Pride and Praying For Time and outsold Faith in the UK, where it went platinum four times but led to a court case with US record label Sony about Michael's frustration over how the album has been marketed. Michael lost the case.