George Michael died alone, boyfriend reveals, as he 'battled a secret heroin addiction'
He was looking forward to Christmas, says boyfriend
It is a haunting image, a famous music star staring out from the window of his country home as the village Christmas procession passed by - life going on without him.
To his fans, he was the defining pop idol of their generation, but this last sighting of George Michael reveals that he died in isolation.
Last night, his boyfriend disclosed how the singer-songwriter, who gave us one of the most loved Christmas songs, died alone on Christmas morning, at the age of just 53.
Fadi Fawaz, a celebrity hairdresser, who had been in a relationship with the star since 2011, said he found him when he went to his home in Oxfordshire as the pair had been planning to spend the day together.
"We were supposed to be going for Christmas lunch. I went round there to wake him up and he was just gone, lying peacefully in bed. We don't know what happened yet," he said.
"Everything had been very complicated recently, but George was looking forward to Christmas, and so was I. Now everything is ruined.
"I want people to remember him the way he was. He was a beautiful person."
George Michael was known for his generosity and in the hours after his death several charities came forward and spoke of the millions of euro he had donated.
Childline founder Esther Rantzen said Michael gave royalties from his 1996 hit "Jesus to a Child" to the charity along with many other donations.
And comedian David Walliams said the star donated £50,000 to Sports Relief when Walliams swam the channel.
During his lifetime, however, Michael was better known for his hedonistic lifestyle.
And it seems this lifestyle was beginning to take its toll. Over the past year he is thought to have been battling a spiralling heroin addiction.
A source revealed yesterday that Michael had been recently treated in hospital for an overdose.
"He's been rushed to A&E on several occasions. He used heroin," the source said.
Cardiac arrest - the cause of death, according to the singer's manager, Michael Lippman - is common among heroin users.
It was a deeply sad death for a man whose bravery in challenging the world to come to terms with his sexuality was widely admired, but who was haunted by the shadow of Aids.
The condition took several friends and at least one lover, and had initially forced him to keep the truth about his homosexuality hidden for fear of terrifying his mother about the consequences.
In 2007, he asked the BBC not to broadcast an interview in which he discussed his HIV fears.
In the documentary, he is said to have admitted to Stephen Fry that he had not taken a test for at least three years because he was afraid it might be positive.
Neighbours near his Mill Cottage home in Goring-on-Thames spoke movingly yesterday about his last months.
The manager of the nearby Catherine Wheel pub said Michael had been a regular face in the pub, but in recent years his appearances became few and far between.
"He changed over the years... He just did not look like George Michael any more. It's very sad. I went down to lay a candle outside his house with a group and they said the last time he was seen was watching the torchlight procession on Christmas Eve from the window."
Residents told how Michael chose to buy his home in Goring-on-Thames after he visited the area with Geri Halliwell and no one recognised him.
They said the star had become less visible in recent years and was rarely seen out and about, unless it was to buy a packet of Rizla cigarette papers from the local newsagents.
Neighbours fear he spent Christmas Eve either alone or with his housekeeper.
Michael had maintained a low profile in recent years, only communicating with fans through Twitter where he had insisted he was "perfectly fine".
In his last Facebook post, the star said he was busy putting the finishing touches to a documentary called 'Freedom', which was due to air in March 2017.
The once fresh-faced boy who had wowed the world as one half of Wham! had long struggled with substance abuse.
In 2014-15, it was claimed Michael had secretly spent a year in the €225,000-a-month Kusnacht Practice in Switzerland after becoming addicted to crack cocaine. Michael's spokesman said he had not entered rehab but instead had been "spending time in Europe" on an "extended break". (© Daily Telegraph, London)