SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The music world is mourning the loss of British pop star George Michael.
His family said he passed away peacefully at home in England over the holidays.
His manager said the singer died of heart failure.
Michael gained worldwide fame as half of the duo known as “Wham!” and split from bandmate Andrew Ridgely in 1986, launching a stellar solo career.
His first solo single “Careless Whisper” debuted in 1984 shortly before Wham! split up. Three years later, his first solo album called “Faith” went to sell more than 20 million copies.
In tribute, music venues in San Francisco’s Castro District blared Michael’s biggest hits Sunday night.
Badlands Club on 18th Street played “Last Christmas” among others.
Some in the gay community said George Michael’s presence in the music industry gave them a voice, even before the pop star came out.
“For people who were gay, they didn’t have to say they were gay to know we connected with them on a different level,” said one man. “George Michael was that guy. Like, we all knew … he was cool … and we could relate to him. Way before he publicly announced.”
Others remember him for his bold fashion choices — leather jackets and sunglasses.
Many said they were not even aware he was sick.