George Michael facts: Singer's age, songs, family, partner and death explained

23 December 2020, 16:05 | Updated: 30 December 2020, 09:49

George Michael in 2007
George Michael in 2007. Picture: Getty

George Michael will forever be one of the world's most popular and successful artists of his generation.

After bursting onto the music scene in the early 1980s as part of Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael soon became one of the biggest popstars of all time.

Here are all the important facts every George fan should know:

  1. What was George Michael's real name?

    George Michael in 1985
    George Michael in 1985. Picture: Getty

    George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, London.

    His father, Kyriacos Panayiotou (nicknamed 'Jack'), was a Greek Cypriot restaurateur, who moved to England in the 1950s.

    Read more: The Story of... 'Careless Whisper' by George Michael

    His mother, Lesley Angold (née Harrison), was an English dancer. His older sisters were Yioda and Melanie.

    His sister Melanie tragically died on Christmas Day 2019, exactly three years after her brother's passing.

  2. What were George Michael's biggest songs?

    At the time of his death, George had sold over 120 million records worldwide. As a solo artist he sold more than 80 million records, and sold a further 30 million records with Wham!

    Read more: George Michael's 15 biggest songs ever, ranked

    He achieved seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

    Among his most famous songs include 'Careless Whisper', 'A Different Corner', 'Praying for Time', 'Fastlove', 'Faith' and 'Father Figure'.

  3. How many albums did George Michael release?

    George Michael released five studio albums: Faith, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, Older, Songs from the Last Century and Patience.

    Read more: 19-year-old George Michael's phenomenal first TV appearance with Wham! - watch video

    He also released the live album Symphonica and several greatest hits compilations.

  4. What was George Michael's cause of death and how old was he?

    In the early hours of Christmas Day morning in 2016, George died at his home in Goring-on-Thames, aged 53.

    He was found dead in bed, by his partner Fadi Fawaz. A post-mortem attributed the death to natural causes as the result of a dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and a fatty liver.

    Read more: The incredible night George Michael went undercover to watch his impersonator

    His funeral was held on March 29, 2017. In a private ceremony, George was buried at Highgate Cemetery in north London, near his mother's grave.

    In summer 2017, an unofficial memorial garden was created for the singer outside his former home in Highgate. The site, in a private square that he had owned, was tended to by fans, until its removal in summer 2018.

  5. Who was George Michael's boyfriend?

    George Michael and former partner Kenny Goss in 2005
    George Michael and former partner Kenny Goss in 2005. Picture: Getty

    At the time of his death, George was dating haistylist Fadi Fawaz.

    During the late 1980s, he had a relationship with Chinese-American make-up artist Kathy Jeung, who was regarded as his artistic "muse" and appeared in the 'I Want Your Sex' video. He later said that she was his "only bona fide" girlfriend.

    Read more: Watch when George Michael came out as gay on live TV and inspired a generation

    In 1992, he started a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, a Brazilian dress designer, whom he had met at the 1991 concert Rock in Rio.

    Six months later, Feleppa discovered that he was HIV positive. George later said: "It was terrifying news. I thought I could have the disease too. I couldn't go through it with my family because I didn't know how to share it with them – they didn't even know I was gay."

    Read more: The moment George Michael locked eyes with 'future soulmate' in audience

    A year later, Feleppa died of an AIDS-related brain haemorrhage. George's single 'Jesus to a Child' is a tribute to Feleppa, as is the album Older.

    In 1996, George started a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss, a former flight attendant and sportswear executive. In 2005, it was reported that they planned to have a civil partnership in the UK, but because of negative publicity and his upcoming tour, they postponed it. He revealed in 2011 that they had split two years earlier.

  6. When did he create Wham?

    George attended Bushey Meads School in Bushey, where he met his future Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley.

    He later formed a short-lived ska band called The Executive, with Ridgeley, Ridgeley's brother Paul, Andrew Leaver, and David Mortimer.

    QUIZ: How well do you know the lyrics to 'Last Christmas'?

    George formed the duo Wham! with Ridgeley in 1981. By the mid-1980s they had become of the world's most successful groups thanks to hits including 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go', 'Club Tropicana' and 'Last Christmas'.

  7. What charity work was George Michael involved in?

    George Michael in 2011
    George Michael in 2011. Picture: Getty

    George Michael was involved in various charity concerts and singles such as Band Aid, and was a passionate LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser.

    Following his death, various charities revealed that George had privately supported of them for many years. Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of Childline, said he gave them "millions" over the years, and that he had given the royalties from his 1996 number one single 'Jesus to a Child' to the charity.

    Read more: 8 times George Michael stunned strangers with private acts of charity

    He also supported the Terrence Higgins Trust "for many years" as well as Macmillan Cancer Support. George also called the production team of TV quiz show Deal or No Deal after a contestant had revealed that she needed £15,000 to fund IVF treatment, and anonymously paid for the treatment.

    He once tipped a student nurse working as a barmaid £5,000 because he overheard that she was in debt. In 2017, another woman came forward to reveal he had anonymously paid for her IVF treatment after seeing her talk about her issues on This Morning. The woman gave birth to a girl in 2012.