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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

George Michael dead at 53

George Michael has died at the age of 53.

The Wham! frontman "passed away peacefully”, in his sleep on 25 December (16) at his Oxfordshire, England home, his publicist has confirmed. 

"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,” the statement reads. 

"The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."

According to the BBC, Thames Valley Police confirmed South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire at 13:42 on Sunday (25Dec). 

The cause of death has not been disclosed, but police say there were no suspicious circumstances. 

Grammy Award winner George found fame in the ‘80s with pop group Wham, before embarking on a successful solo career and sold more than 100m albums during almost four decades. 

Twitter tributes have been pouring in, with Duran Duran's account posting: "2016 - loss of another talented soul. All our love and sympathy to @GeorgeMichael's family."

George Michael was born Georgious Panayiotou in London on 23 June 1963. He has been ill for the past five years which lead to the cancellation of his 2011 Symphonica tour which was scheduled to come to Australia.

George also had a long history of drug abuse and at one time served four weeks in prison for driving under the influence of drugs.

Despite his personal demons, George Michael was one of the greatest pop stars of a generation.

George first rose to fame as a member of pop duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley. Their first hit ‘Young Guns (Got For It) was an immediate global smash.

Then came ‘Wham Rap’, ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Club Tropicana’, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’, ‘Careless Whisper’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Everything She Wants’, ‘Last Christmas’, ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘The Edge of Heaven’ and ‘Where Did Your Heart Go’.

The Wham chart cycle delivered 13 hits in four years.

Wham split in 1986 with their last show on 28 June 1986 in London. They never reformed.

George released his first solo album ‘Faith’ in 1987. It made him a global superstar. However, he was not as prolific in his solo years as his four year with Wham. George released only five solo albums including the covers record ‘Songs From The Last Century’ but still, every album was a hit.

George’s final album ‘Patience’ was released in 2004.

In later years he was arrested for drugs and driving offences and twice banned from driving. 

Michael’s death prompted an outpouring of emotional tributes with musicians, celebrities and politicians posting their memories of Michael on social media.

Selena Gomez delights sick kids with festive hospital visit

Selena Gomez spent her Christmas Eve (24Dec16) spreading a little festive joy as she paid a surprise visit to a children's hospital in her native Texas.

The Come and Get It hitmaker stopped by Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth on Saturday (24Dec16) to spend some time with young patients in the Child's Life Zone play area.

During Selena's visit, she also helped a group of around 14 kids decorate cookies for the holiday.

"She was very sweet and amazing with the kids!" a source told E! News. "There were some tears, so it was pretty emotional for some patients.

"She was absolutely wonderful and genuine," the insider continued. "The hospital was so thankful she took time away from her family to visit children who can't be home this Christmas."

Hospital staff also shared a picture of Selena online to thank her for visiting.

"Thank you @selenagomez for stopping by the Child Life Zone this morning to visit with our patients and families who weren't able to be home this Christmas Eve!" read a post on the venue's official Instagram page.

One of the patients Selena hung out with was a girl named Madison, whose mother shared a snap of the 24-year-old hugging her daughter in her hospital bed.

"Selena came to see Madison today!" she wrote in the accompanying caption. "Love that she took time out of her busy schedule to make her day!"

The singer/actress is no stranger to medical centres - she was diagnosed with lupus in 2014 and in recent months, has been candid about her struggles with anxiety and depression, which prompted her to take an indefinite break from her world tour in August (16) to focus on getting well again. She was subsequently reported to have sought treatment at a facility in Tennessee in October (16).

Selena returned to the spotlight in November (16), when she attended the American Music Awards, where she gave an impassioned speech about being "broken" as she accepted the Female Pop/Rock Artist trophy.

Eddie Vedder plays Santa for struggling Maryland mum

Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder surprised a Maryland family facing a Christmas without a home by handing them $10,000 (GBP8,100).

Tyshika Britten asked for help on on 19 December (16) after learning that she and her six kids were facing eviction and a Christmas without gifts, and her plea was picked up by the Washington Post.

Britten wrote: "I am a mother of six, 5 boys and 1 baby girl… I'm so hurt. I'm trying my best. I pray everyday and now I'm begging for help. I know it's not about the gifts, but they are kids! I'm such a failure right now... please help me."

Vedder saw the Post article about the desperate mum's Craigslist plea and was "so moved" by her story he decided to reach out and help.

"I thought those kids must be so proud of their mother for reaching out," the rocker told the Post. "That takes a lot of courage."

He also revealed her story reminded him of his own youth, adding, "There were years there were toys from Santa, but they were used and they came from garage sales and they didn't always work."

Britten didn't even know who Vedder was when she received his cheque just before Christmas, asking, "Is he in a band?"

The rock star's generosity prompted the struggling mum and her kids to spend Christmas checking out Pearl Jam concerts on YouTube. A GoFundMe page for Britten's family has also raised over $18,000 (GBP14,600).

Christmas came early for Vedder and his bandmates last week (20Dec16) when they learned they had landed on the list of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2017 inductees.

Pearl Jam will join Journey, late rapper Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, and Yes among the class of 2017.