Saturday 24 August 2019

'I went to wake him... he was gone' - Partner reveals George Michael died alone on Christmas Day

George Michael died aged 53, on December 25. Photo: / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINAMIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
George Michael died aged 53, on December 25. Photo: / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINAMIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
George Michael performs at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Picture: Getty
George Michael collecting his Ivor Novello award in 1989. Photo: PA
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Pop superstar George Michael has been described as a "beautiful person" and a "kind and generous man" after he was found dead in bed by his partner.

The 53-year-old musician died from suspected heart failure.

His former long-term partner Kenny Goss said he was devastated at the death, which is being treated by police as "unexplained but not suspicious".

Fadi Fawaz, who began seeing Michael following his split from Goss, said he found the star dead when he arrived to wake him ahead of a planned Christmas Day lunch.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "I went round there to wake him up and he was just gone, lying peacefully in bed. We don't know what happened yet.

"Everything had been very complicated recently, but George was looking forward to Christmas, and so was I.

George Michael (right) and Kenny Goss arriving for Attitude Magazine's 10th Birthday Party at the Atlantic Bar & Grill in central London.
George Michael (right) and Kenny Goss arriving for Attitude Magazine's 10th Birthday Party at the Atlantic Bar & Grill in central London.

"Now everything is ruined. I want people to remember him the way he was - he was a beautiful person."

Michael officially announced in 2011 that his 15-year relationship with Goss had ended - but said the pair had actually split around two years earlier.

Their relationship was first revealed when Michael came out as gay after being arrested in public toilets in Beverly Hills, California, in 1998 for engaging in a lewd act.

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."

Michael's manager Michael Lippman said it was believed he had died from heart failure, while his publicist said he "passed away peacefully at home".

After his death it emerged Michael had quietly donated millions of pounds to charities, gave a stranger money for IVF treatment and anonymously volunteered at a homeless shelter.

The singer - whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - sold more than 100 million albums throughout his career.

His death came in a year which has seen the music industry lose some of its biggest stars including Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.

A woman lays a candle outside the Goring house of George Michael in Oxfordshire. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A woman lays a candle outside the Goring house of George Michael in Oxfordshire. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A woman lays flowers outside the house of singer George Michael, in north London, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Tributes outside the Goring house of George Michael in Oxfordshire. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A woman leaves a tribute outside the house of singer George Michael, in north London, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A woman arranges a candle outside the house of singer George Michael, in north London, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Tributes are seen outside the house of singer George Michael, where he died on Christmas Day, in Goring, southern England, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
A woman and child place a tribute outside the house of singer George Michael, where he died on Christmas Day, in Goring, southern England, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
People take photographs outside the house of singer George Michael, in north London, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Tributes are seen outside the house of singer George Michael, where he died on Christmas Day, in Goring, southern England, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
George Michael fans outside his London home, as the pop superstar has died at the age of 53 from suspected heart failure. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
People outside the Goring house of George Michael in Oxfordshire. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
People outside the Goring house of George Michael in Oxfordshire. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A George Michael fan outside his London home. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
A man and a woman react outside the house of singer George Michael, where he died on Christmas Day, in Goring, southern England, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
A woman reacts outside the house of singer George Michael, where he died on Christmas Day, in Goring, southern England, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
A woman reacts outside the house of singer George Michael, where he died on Christmas Day, in Goring, southern England, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
A man carries flowers to the house of singer George Michael, where he died on Christmas Day, in Goring, southern England, Britain December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

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."

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 - said they were left devastated.

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.

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".

Michael, whose brushes with the law and tales of drug use saw him hit the headlines, nearly died from pneumonia in late 2011. After receiving treatment in a Vienna hospital, he made a tearful appearance outside his London home and said it had been ''touch and go''.

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" was 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!"

His Secret Donations to Charity

Quietly generous, Michael's many acts of kindness have begun to be revealed since his death.

He left an estate worth millions despite being born into a struggling, working class north London home.

Anecdotes about his generosity never made the newspapers when accounts of his sexual encounters in toilets, mishaps, arrests and drug-taking could be splashed across a front page instead. Now that he is dead, they are arriving thick and fast.

Michael described his mother Lesley as “a woman of great compassion” who “felt much as I do, that we were living in a world that was gradually being drained of that”. The capacity for empathy this would instil in him is something that set him apart from privileged celebrities, as accounts now show.

The star donated royalties from some of his biggest selling singles and is said to have given a gameshow contestant thousands of pounds to fund her IVF treatment.

He has helped countless children as a result of his donations to Childline and also supported other organisations including the Terrence Higgins Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

His Twitter feed would regularly become a site for charity auctions and Michael would gift concert tickets to NHS nurses. After his death, it also transpired he had apparently worked anonymously at a homeless shelter, asking staff at that time that his work there was not disclosed.

Michael, who spoke about losing his partner Anselmo Feleppa to HIV, "personally supported" the Terrence Higgins Trust for "many years", Jane Barron from the organisation said.

"We are so saddened by the loss of George Michael," she added.

"George also often thought of us to kindly donate experiences and gifts that were used to raise vital funds to help us support people living with HIV.

"Along with other charities, we were grateful to benefit from the royalties of George's 1991 duet with Elton John, Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me.

"His donations contributed to a vision of a world where people living with HIV live healthy lives free from prejudice and discrimination.

"Thanks to George's legacy, we are a step closer to that world and we are so grateful for his support and friendship over the years.

"Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time."

Childline founder and president Dame Esther Rantzen revealed that Michael had given the royalties from his 1996 number one single Jesus To A Child to the charity.

She told the Press Association: "For years now he has been the most extraordinarily generous philanthropist, giving money to Childline, but he was determined not to make his generosity public so no-one outside the charity knew how much he gave to the nation's most vulnerable children.

"Over the years he gave us millions and we were planning next year, as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations to create, we hoped, a big concert in tribute to him - to his artistry, to his wonderful musicality but also to thank him for the 100s of 1,000s of children he helped through supporting Childline.

"And it is particularly tragic that Christmas, which was when he released Jesus to a Child, would also be the time when we lost him.

"I think all of us have memories of particular Wham! songs and George Michael songs which mean a great deal to us.

"Certainly, for Britain's children, George Michael meant so much more."

In 1997 Michael lost his mother Lesley to cancer - at the time he described her as a "woman of great compassion", adding: "She felt much as I do, that we were living in a world that was gradually being drained of that."

Almost 10 years after her death he played a special free concert in north London for NHS nurses as thanks for the care they gave her and over the years continued to support charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support.

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We are deeply saddened to hear about the death of George Michael who as a Macmillan Ambassador provided his committed support to us in a number of ways.

"We are extremely grateful to George and send our condolences to his family, friends and fans."

And in the hours after the singer's death was announced TV presenter Richard Osman revealed that Michael had called a woman who appeared on Deal or No Deal to give her the money she needed for IVF treatment.

Osman tweeted: "A woman on 'Deal Or No Deal' told us she needed £15k for IVF treatment. George Michael secretly phoned the next day and gave her the £15k."

Michael was also among the stars involved in the original Band Aid single Do They Know It's Christmas? which raised more than $24 million dollars (€23 million) for famine relief in Ethiopia after selling more than two million copies worldwide.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the singer once sent free tickets to hospital workers after they treated him for pneumonia.

He gave 1,000 free tickets to staff at the AKH hospital in Vienna, Austria, after he fell ill with pneumonia in 2011.

He was forced to cancel a series of shows when he was diagnosed with the illness, but rescheduled 19 gigs across Europe.

Other - as yet unverified - claims on Twitter in the wake of his death include

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