Music shock: George Michael is dead, at 53

Music shock: George Michael is dead, at 53


norman lebrecht

December 25, 2016

It has been announced that the pop singer and former Wham star died ‘peacefully’ over the Christmas period.

London born, to a Greek-Cypriot family, he sold an estimated 100 million records.


  • Ungeheuer says:

    Geez, another one gone. What a terrible year for music of all stripes.

  • Olassus says:

    I have never heard of this person.

    • ben says:

      Welcome to our planet Earth

    • Marshall says:

      Same here!!! Yes, OK I did hear of the name-but wasn’t sure what he did. I had to go to Youtube to find that out.

      Also proud to say when Hilary Clinton was having rock concert/campaign events I never heard of the “stars” she brought in to help her win.

      • Dominic Stafford Uglow says:

        You’re proud of your ignorance? Very Trump.

      • Bruce says:

        Congratulations on being so far above the common people.

        • Marshall says:

          Congratulations? Far above-if those are the terms you would use….to me it’s a matter of time. Life is too short and there’s too much of our great music to know. I don’t give the rest much thought, but I went to rock music concerts a few times-the last 20 years ago and my ears were still numb the next day-you have to be out of your mind to risk your hearing on such stuff.

          By the way, what is it with all these pop/rock stars and drugs and self destruction? You barely see it in our world, even when classical performers were stars. Some music must be more life affirming.

          • Bruce says:

            In my experience, pop music connects to people in a very immediate, visceral way, much more so than most classical music (you might be surprised at how many classical musicians are serious, passionate, discerning lovers of pop music).

            The performance of pop music doesn’t require as much training and self-discipline as classical music does (lots of famous and respected pop musicians such as James Taylor and Paul McCartney are open about never having learned to read music, for example). Classical music has more than its share of neurotic, addictive, and/or self-destructive personalities; however, they tend (tend) to keep their problems under some semblance of control since they know they can’t perform at their highest level if they spend too much time under the influence of whatever substance. The ones who can’t control their problem usually don’t make it. Most of us have known some fabulously talented musicians who didn’t make it out of music school, or didn’t make it far in the profession, due to their drink or drug problems. Not necessarily so with pop musicians.

        • Marshall says:

          Sorry your first paragraph makes no sense to me, other than as an expression of your personal experience. So you’re saying that “classical music’ does not connect in “a very immediate, visceral way, etc”??

          Surprise me-who are all the classical musicians who are “serious, passionate, discerning’ (give me a break) lovers of pop music? The ones I know and am aware of, may enjoy a variety of classical music, but don’t listen to “pop” music.

          You ignore my point about volume-pop/rock music is measurably harmful to your hearing. I have heard of some classical musicians venturing into rock venues for social or political reasons, but have worn earplugs! Why is everything so loud today?

          We know of some destructive personalities among classical musicians (remarkably few)-and we know of others who persevered with their demons (a lot more)-but you ignore my point that the music itself-and yes its discipline-gives such riches back that it can sustain even a rocky personal journey. The other music apparently does not. A big part of it is that classical explores and gives meaning to the human condition, and its motivation is not what is commercially viable or attracts more people. Drugs, and other forms of self-destruction is an epidemic in the pop world.

          I have known, “as talented” people in the arts who don’t make it because of flawed personalities, lack of ambition(a big factor), not in love with the life it requires, but “fabulously” talented (I have not known personally) meaning of a transcendent level, we usually hear about.

          You don’ take up my point that there was a time-in fact through most of history- where the connection between popular music and art music was actually very close-only separated by intensity, virtuosity, complexity, etc. They had much in common. Today an abyss separates them, not only in style, but in values and purpose.

          Remember classical musicians-of course singers, but even instrumentalists- were once also the popular stars of the day.

  • Mr Oakmountain says:

    Not having been a great fan of his, my George Michael moment was the “Freddy Mercury Tribute / Aids Awareness Concert:
    After lots of old and young rock singers had made complete fools of themselves trying to sing Queen songs and failing miserably, George Michael sang the most rousing, uplifting and soaring rendition of “Somebody to Love”.
    Incidentally it was Tom Jones who said that of all the “young” pop singers, in his opinion George Michael was the only one with a great voice.

  • Dominic Stafford Uglow says:

    Can’t help feeling that you all ought to have danced more…

  • V.Lind says:

    I do not know George Michael’s music at all, but it would be hard to be a conscious human being and not have heard of him. From the tributes his music was held in high regard among people who take an interest in popular culture. I can only lament the death of yet another far too young man from this world, and on Christmas Day, in a milieu that does indeed to have seen more than its share of losses this year.

    And coming on top of the Russian airline tragedy, which also struck a huge blow to music lovers as well as close family and friends, this has been a black Christmas indeed in the music world.

  • Jaybuyer says:

    German media are describing his “Last Christmas” as ‘der ultimative Weihnachtshit’.
    Just make sure you separate the last 3 letters rather than 4 when attempting a translation.

  • Yareally says:

    If this holiday season hasn’t already been depressing enough, now one of the very best ever dies. To think yesterday morning I was listening to “Last Christmas” to cheer me up, and now I’m yareally sadder that ever.

  • Jaybuyer says:

    The German media are describing “Last Christmas” as the ultimate ‘Weihnachtshit’. Just be careful how you split that word up when attempting a translation.

  • Martin Ramby says:

    @Dominic Stafford Uglow

    What a schmuck you are. A thread about the untimely passing of a talented performer and you use it to make a stupid political slam.