Ex-WHAM! singer George Michael dead at 53

Ex-WHAM! singer George Michael died peacefully in his home at the age of 53, his publicist said.

His publicist issued a statement that went on to say, "The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."

Michael enjoyed immense popularity early in his career as a teenybopper idol, delivering a series of hits such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," ''Young Guns (Go For It)" and "Freedom."

As a solo artist, he developed into a more serious singer and songwriter, lauded by critics for his tremendous vocal range.

Michael, with startling good looks and an easy stage manner, formed the boy band WHAM! with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980's. Helped by MTV, the cheerful duo easily crossed the Atlantic to become popular in the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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