A year that has seemed disproportionately filled with celebrity deaths, from Prince to David Bowie to Leonard Cohen and more, called for another tonight, as British singer, songwriter and producer George Michael passed away on Christmas day. He was 53 years old.
The icon of bending borders and member of the British duo Wham! was one of the greatest talents of his time, writing some of the most beloved hits in pop music over the years (“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Careless Whisper”, “Faith”, “Freddom ! ’90 “), of course, one of his most controversial (” I Want Your Sex “). But her death at the age of 53 from heart failure grabbed the music world, already reeling from a year of high-profile, shocked and saddened deaths – perhaps even more so as it occurred on Christmas day.
As tributes continue to pour in and fans around the world mourn the death of Michael, Billboard takes a look at other music icons who have passed on Christmas Day over the years.
George Michael dies at 53
BATHROOM. Fields, 1946
An accomplished juggler and comedian, America’s iconic figure of the early 1900s was also a full-fledged Broadway music star before making a name for himself in 1930s films, and would even have been the top choice for play in The Wizard of Oz, a role he finally gave up to write his next film. He died in 1946 of a gastric hemorrhage at the age of 66.
Dean Martin, 1995
The King of Cool, a member of the original Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra and famous TV star and singer Sammy Davis, Jr., was known as much for his comedy (first alongside Jerry Lewis) and his film career. only for his immense discography, which covered some 30 years and dozens of albums. The iconic figure died at the age of 78 from acute respiratory failure, the result of a battle with emphysema that stemmed from his long-standing love of cigarettes.
Stars pay homage to George Michael
James Brown, 2006
It is impossible to sum up Brown’s influence on American pop culture – beyond even music – during his seven decades on this earth, but it is safe to say that the Godfather of the Soul left his mark on so many people that it is almost impossible not to see one. exhibit its influence in all corners of the entertainment industry today. Whether as a pioneer of funk music, a political and social lightning rod, a dynamic, iconic and relentless performer, or an irresistible personality, Brown was nothing less than a legend in his time, and his death on Christmas Day in the age of 73 triggered a national period of mourning.
Eartha Kitt, 2008
“Santa Baby” just wouldn’t be the same song without the singular voice of Eartha Kitt, whose long singing career was rivaled by her long acting career on Broadway and in movies, and which spanned over 60 years. years. . In a way, it’s fitting that his most enduring success celebrated December 25; Kitt died of colon cancer that day in 2008 at the age of 81, never really retiring, appearing on television and in movies until the year of her death.
Vic Chestnutt, 2009
Chestnutt, born in Georgia, was largely paralyzed from the neck down for most of his adult life due to injuries sustained in a car crash at the age of 18, but that didn’t prevented from playing the guitar and becoming an influential force in the alt. and the indie-folk world. He has collaborated extensively with Michael Stipe of REM and Widespread Panic, and several of his songs were covered on the 1996 charity album Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, which drew attention to his writing skills. . He died at the age of 45 after overdosing on muscle relaxants.