SAN DIEGO - JUNE 17:  Singer George Michael performs at the Sports Arena on June 17, 2008 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
SAN DIEGO - JUNE 17: Singer George Michael performs at the Sports Arena on June 17, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:29
Singer George Michael dies
george michael dies of natural causes diana magnay_00000508.jpg
AFP/Getty Images
george michael dies of natural causes diana magnay_00000508.jpg
Now playing
01:06
Coroner: George Michael died of natural causes
george michael sexuality song writing songs sot _00001109.jpg
george michael sexuality song writing songs sot _00001109.jpg
Now playing
01:05
George Michael comes out on CNN (1998)
george michael dj ben jones interview kristie lu stout_00031928.jpg
AFP/Getty Images
george michael dj ben jones interview kristie lu stout_00031928.jpg
Now playing
04:42
The musical legacy of George Michael
1984:  English pop star and one half of the duo 'Wham', George Michael, arriving at Heathrow Airport.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
1984: English pop star and one half of the duo 'Wham', George Michael, arriving at Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:43
George Michael's career of music evolution
LONDON - JULY 02:  Singer George Michael performs on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England.  The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY.  (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)
MJ Kim/Getty Images
LONDON - JULY 02: Singer George Michael performs on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England. The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:17
George Michael's family releases statement
CNN/2011
Now playing
12:53
George Michael's song for William and Kate (2011)
LONDON - JULY 02:  Singer George Michael performs on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England.  The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY.  (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)
MJ Kim/Getty Images
LONDON - JULY 02: Singer George Michael performs on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England. The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:15
George Michael discusses wedding song (2011)
British singer George Michael performs during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in London on August 12, 2012. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL        (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
British singer George Michael performs during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium in London on August 12, 2012. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)
Now playing
03:28
Remembering pop superstar George Michael

Story highlights

Wham! star George Michael died at the age of 53

Michael's 1987 debut album "Faith" sold more than 10 million copies

CNN —  

British pop star George Michael, the musician who first shot to fame with the 1980s duo Wham!, has died, his family said in a statement. He was 53 years old.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period,” said the statement which was released by Britain’s Thames Valley Police.

Wham! scored big with hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Careless Whisper.”

Michael went on to a successful solo career; his 1987 debut album “Faith” sold more than 10 million copies. Many of his hits with Wham! and as a solo artist, are still well-known decades later.

In a statement, Thames Valley Police said: “At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.” The agency said police were called to a property in Goring-on-Thames shortly before 2 p.m. on Sunday and confirmed the death of a 53-year-old man at the scene.

Condolences poured in on social media.

Andrew Ridgeley, the other half of Wham!, expressed his grief on Twitter, saying he was “heartbroken.”

Singer Bryan Adams tweeted: “Such an incredible singer and a lovely human being, far too young to leave us.”

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres said Michael “was such a brilliant talent. I’m so sad.”

Singer Elton John said he “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.”

The two-time Grammy Award recipient’s career spanned several decades, during which he “became one of the most beloved pop craftsmen and respected entertainers,” said Neil Portnow, president/CEO of The Recording Academy, which awards the Grammys.

“From the enormous success he achieved with pop duo Wham! to his influential solo career, his extraordinary talent had a profound impact on countless entertainers worldwide, and his creative contributions will live on forever,” Portnow said the statement.

In 1998, Michael told CNN in an exclusive interview that he was gay.

“This is as good of a time as any,” he told CNN’s Jim Moret then. “I want to say that I have no problem with people knowing that I’m in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost 10 years.”

Michael’s comments came shortly after he was booked for an investigation of misdemeanor lewd conduct and released on $500 bail. The singer was alone in the restroom of a Beverly Hills park when an undercover officer saw him allegedly commit the act.

Michael, whose real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, apologized to his fans for the alleged incident. He said he hoped they would stand by him.

In her condolences, pop star Miley Cyrus tweeted: “Thank you for your radical activism in the LGBTQ community!”

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Elwyn Lopez and John Newsome contributed to this report.