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- British singer (1963-2016)
This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series.
George Michael’s love of Christmas lives on years after his death.
The singer was recently revealed to be the secret benefactor of a holiday light display in his former neighbourhood of Highgate in North London.
Michael, who lived in the area from 2002 until his death on this day in 2016, was said to have loved the light display so much, his estate opted to continue making annual donations in his honour.
Not only did Michael help fund the area’s Christmas festivities, the singer was also the largest private sponsor of Highgate’s Fair in the Square celebrations during the summer.
Highgate’s festive display is a bittersweet reminder of the singer, who died on Christmas Day 2016 when he was just 53. Fans were shocked to learn the singer “passed away peacefully at home”; no further details were given although police called his death “unexplained but not suspicious.”
In the days following his death, his partner at the time Fadi Fawaz, spoke to The Telegraph.
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“We were supposed to be going for Christmas lunch,” Fawaz said. “I went round there to wake him up and he was just gone, lying peacefully in bed. We don’t know what happened yet.”
In March 2017, an autopsy ruled the star’s death as a result of heart and liver disease.
“I can’t say for sure but I think his body just gave up,” Michael’s former partner of 15 years Kenny Goss said. “All these years, it was just weak.”
Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Michael rose to fame in the early ‘80s as one half of the music duo Wham! .
Over the course of his career, Michael would go on to sell more than 120 million albums worldwide and earn 10 number one hits including, “Faith” and “Father Figure.”
Michael's biggest hit with Wham! "Last Christmas" is perhaps one of his most enduring hits. In 1984, the melancholy meets pop song became an instant hit on the UK music charts.
The song would go on to be covered by the likes of Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, and spawned the 2019 film of the same title starring "Game of Thrones" star Emilia Clarke.
According to Michael's Wham! bandmate, Andrew Ridgeley, the song "distilled the essence of Christmas into music" and was written on a whim while the duo visited Michael's childhood home.
"We went to his old room, the room in which we had spent hours as kids recording pastiches of radio shows and jingles, the room where he kept a keyboard and something on which to record his sparks of inspiration, and he played me the introduction and the beguiling, wistful chorus melody to 'Last Christmas.' It was a moment of wonder," Ridgeley wrote in his 2019 memoir "Wham! George Michael & Me."