GEORGE MICHAEL, British musician, born; Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, best known as George Michael, was a two-time Grammy Award winning English singer-songwriter who had a career as frontman of the duo Wham! and also as a soul-influenced pop musician. He sold over 85 million records worldwide, encompassing twelve British #1 singles, nine British #1 albums, ten US #1 singles, and two US #1 albums.
His 1987 debut solo album, Faith, sold over 20 million copies to date. George Michael was the most played artist on British radio over the past two decades. Michael was initially private about his sexual orientation, with rumors of relationships with high-profile women such as Brooke Shields, Whoopi Goldberg, and Melissa Megginson making him common tabloid fodder during his Wham! career. These persisted into his solo career, but Michael had established a relationship with Anselmo Feleppa, whom he had met at the 1991 concert “Rock in Rio”. Feleppa died of an AIDS-related complications
in 1993. Michael’s single “Jesus to a Child” is a tribute to Feleppa (he consistently dedicates it to him before performing it live), as is his 1996 album Older. In a 2007 interview, Michael said he kept his sexuality secret due to worries over the impact it would have on his mother.
Questions of his sexual orientation persisted in public until April 1998, when he was arrested for “engaging in a lewd act” in a public toilet in a park in Beverley Hills. He was arrested by an undercover policeman named Marcelo Rodríguez, a sting operation using so-called “pretty police”. After that incident he became open about his sexuality and his relationship with Kenny Goss, a former cheerleader coach and sports clothing executive from Dallas, Texas, and his partner since June 1996. Goss opened the Goss Gallery in May 2005 in Dallas, which shows contemporary art, including those collected by the couple. Michaels died of heart failure on Christmas Day, 2016.