Belfast Telegraph

George Michael fans and music industry peers in outpouring of grief at death of pop colossus

Tributes from the world of music and beyond have been been paid to music star George Michael, who has died in England at the age of 53.

Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp and his wife Shirlie - a backing singer for Wham! with her musical partner Helen "Pepsi" DeMacque as part of the act Pepsi & Shirlie, said: "My whole family and I are devastated at the loss of our beautiful friend Yog! We will miss him so much! We are all heartbroken!"

Shirlie wrote that she is "beyond heartbroken".

She added: "Words cannot express how sad we all are, only last week I saw him laughing and happy. My heart is broken to lose someone so special."

Kemp previously revealed how Michael was responsible for his getting with Shirlie, to whom he has been married since 1988.

Michael introduced Shirlie to Kemp in the 1980s and joined them on their very first date.

Speaking to Piers Morgan on his Life Stories programme in 2014, Kemp said: "'He's a special person, George. He's been a good friend to us for years.

"'It's funny because I remember the first date that Shirlie and I ever went on. George came as a chaperone. I spent the whole evening trying to lose him so that me and Shirlie could sneak off somewhere and snog.

"He's a special person and he always will be."

The cause of the star's death was heart failure, according to his manager Michael Lippman.

Behind the headlines and huge on-stage persona, George Michael was a generous man who kept quiet about his considerable charitable donations, it has emerged.

The star donated royalties from some of his biggest selling singles and is said to have given a gameshow contestant thousands of pounds to fund her IVF treatment.

Michael has helped countless children as a result of his donations to Childline and also supported other organisations including the Terrence Higgins Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

At the music star's riverside home in Goring-on-Thames several floral tributes had been left for him.

One card, signed "Tracy", said: "Dear George, My heart is broken, you have gone too soon. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world.

"Some of my most precious and happiest memories have been watching you sing live and one of the best days of my life was being at Wembley for Wham's final concert and again when you sang at the new Wembley.

"I hope that you have finally found some peace and you know how much you were loved.

"Your music and spirit will live on.

"Forever in my heart, Tracy xxx."

Another card, which was anonymous, said: "George, thank you for your songs and your beautiful voice. We will miss you x."

Music mogul and X Factor boss Simon Cowell tweeted that the singer was "always one of the greatest".

Singer and former Pop Idol star Gareth Gates recalled meeting Michael, writing on Twitter: "Such a sad day. We lose another legend. I met George Michael a couple of times. He was such a lovely man, and what a talent. Rest in peace x."

Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson wrote: "So sorry to hear about George Michael's passing. Brilliant icon. "Kissing a Fool" one of my all time favs. Strength & light to his family."

Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood said: "What a shock. Sad to hear George Michael has left us."

Singer Anastacia, who recently appeared in Strictly Come Dancing tweeted that "2016 has lost so many greats".

She added: "It's so sad George Michael has to join the list of Icons we had to say goodbye to too soon."

An official statement from Universal Music UK read: "We're in shock at the loss of one of the greatest singer songwriters. The brilliance of his music, the soundtrack to so many lives, will live for ever.

"Our deepest condolences to George's family and friends from everyone at Universal Music."

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