The news of George Michael’s untimely death dominated traditional and online news titles around the globe as many millions of people were still relaxing with family over the Christmas break.
The pop superstar, who rose to prominence in the early ‘80s as the frontman with English pop duo Wham!, passed away from a heart attack on Christmas Day, He was just 53.
British newspaper The Independent led its Boxing Day front page with a black and white picture of Michael on stage, under the headline, “From Eighties Poster Boy to Tormented Pop Icon.” The Daily Telegraph tabloid led ran a two-deck headline on its frontpage, “George Michael Found Dead at 53.”
The vast majority of European news sites devoted coverage of Michael’s passing to their homepages. Paris’ Le Monde led with Michael’s passing, describing the late artist as a “tormented pop icon,” Milan’s Corriere della Sera remembered the singer as a “giant pop star” from a “troubled life” and Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung carried its obituary under the stark headline, “Singer George Michael is Dead.”
News of Michael’s death broke mid-morning on the east coast of Australia, where the singer had enjoyed mainstream success both with Wham! and as a solo artist. Michael last toured Australia in 2010 when he played stadiums in three cities for his LIVE tour. The British artist was scheduled to tour Down Under again in November 2012 but all dates were scrapped on account of his lingering ‘‘anxiety’’ issues.
His passing was the top story across the slate of major Australian news titles, from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Website, to the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne’s The Age and Brisbane’s Courier Mail.
ARIA Hall of Fame inducted broadcaster and former Countdown host Ian “Molly” Meldrum recalled interviewing a shy George Michael in his Wham! days, and pointed to his understated influence on the world of pop.
“George paved the way for people like Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake to leave boy bands and then to go on to be taken seriously as solo acts, Robbie even covered George’s Freedom 90,” he wrote in the Courier Mail.
SMH music writer Bernard Zuel penned a wide-angle piece under the headline, “George Michael dead: A global star who demanded we listen without prejudice.”
Michael was, “A star who, as with another of his heroes, Freddie Mercury of Queen, was a talisman for a gay community still excluded from the center of culture, who eventually became a champion for freedoms and rights not always afforded that community,” Zuel noted. “A man who, if not in the same league as the giants who have died this year – David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen – is not out of place with the slew of other music stars, such as Glen Frey of Eagles, Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard, Sharon Jones and Wayne Duncan of Daddy Cool, who have also taken a final bow in 2016.”