And so the greats pass, one after the other.
David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell and now George Michael.
Michael, born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, died of heart failure on Christmas Day. Tributes immediately poured in on social media.
On Twitter, fans and celebrities offered their memories and their disbelief that Michael, just 53, was gone.
“R.I.P George Michael. Beyond sad, you were a legend, and you were far too young. ‘Blasting Last Christmas’ now,” tweeted the band One Republic.
“#GEORGE MICHAEL THANK YOU FOR ALWAYS CHOOSING FREEDOM OVER FEAR. MAY YOUR INFLUENCE LIVE ON and through us all,” offered singer Janelle Monae.
“My friend #GeorgeMichael so brave…so talented. #peace You will be missed,” tweeted singer Melissa Etheridge.
Those who grew up with Michael’s music in Wham! (I was one) and then his solo career — during which he sang with other greats such as Aretha Franklin and Elton John — were stunned that he was dead.
My friend #GeorgeMichael so brave…so talented. #peace You will be missed.
John himself took to Instagram to say: “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.”
His Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley tweeted this: “Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx.”
FollowAndrew Ridgeley @ajridgeley
Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx https://twitter.com/twittermoments/status/813161016012013568 …
Singer Carrie Underwood took to both Twitter and Instagram to tell a longer story: “I never told him (mainly because I thought I’d freak him out) but #georgemichael has always been such an influence on me. As a child, his was the first voice I could pick out of the sea of voices I heard on the radio. Before I knew anything about him, I knew his voice. As an adult, I cried when I saw him in concert. His songs and his voice helped to teach me how to sing. I will forever regret not letting him know.”
Michael came out as gay in 1998. Some remembered him most fondly as a fighter for gay rights. Out Magazine tweeted: “Gay Music Legend #GeorgeMichael Dead at 53.”
I used to live not far from Michael in London. Locally, he was always known as a really nice bloke — as they say in England — even at the height of his stardom. Not for him were airs and graces.
As memories and tributes poured in on Twitter, some recounted that Michael was the first ever to perform a little Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, now such a popular YouTube element for Corden’s “Late Late Show.”
The man who brought us “Freedom” and “Faith” has celebrated his last Christmas.
It’s made the day a somber one for more than a few.