British pop singer George Michael has died, the British news agency PA reported Sunday, citing his publicist.

"It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period," PA quoted the star's publicist as saying.

"The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time," the agency quoted the publicist as saying. "There will be no further comment at this stage."

Michael's death was being treated as "unexplained but not suspicious," the Thames Valley Police said.

Friends and colleagues reacted with incredulity and sadness on Twitter.

Singer Elton John posted a photo of himself with Michael on Instagram with the caption: "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family, friends and all of his fans."

Madonna posted: "Farewell My Friend! Another Great Artist leaves us. Can 2016 Fuck Off NOW?"

Singer Bryan Adams tweeted: "RIP George Michael. I can't believe it. Such an incredible singer and a lovely human being, far too young to leave us."

Talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres said, "I just heard about my friend @GeorgeMichael's death. He was such a brilliant talent. I'm so sad."

The 53-year-old Michael rose to fame as a member of pop duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley, known for their hits "Club Tropicana" and "Last Christmas."

The son of a Greek Cypriot father and British mother, his real name was Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou. He went on to have a successful solo career after Wham! split up in 1986.

The artist, who was initially reticent about his private life, came out as gay after a very public arrest for a "lewd act" in a Beverly Hills restroom in 1998.

He responded with a tongue-in-cheek song, "Outside," with a video featuring policemen and a row of gleaming urinals in an apparent reference to his arrest.

Michael sold more than 100 million albums throughout his career spanning almost four decades.

"Outside" (1998), "Faith" (1987) and "Careless Whisper" (1984) were among his biggest hits as a solo artist.

The death of his mother and of his life partner plunged Michael into depression and crisis in the 1990s.

The artist had a difficult relationship with fame and fortune and had several run-ins with the law relating to drug offences. He pleaded guilty to charges of driving while unfit through drugs in 2007 and 2010.

Michael suffered a bout of pneumonia and spent four weeks in hospital in Vienna in 2011.

Related stories

Popstar George Michael dies of heart failure

George Michael died of natural causes, coroner finds

7 MAJOR Camila Cabello Solo Career Moves (So Far)

Katy Perry’s Failed Path to Wokeness

George Michael laid to rest in London

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.