George Michael
George Michael Reuters

British pop singer George Michael, who died unexpectedly yesterday at the age of 53, disclosed a decade ago that he had Jewish roots.

Michael died at his home in England of heart failure, his publicist said. His family asked for privacy during this time.

Michael first achieved fame as one of two members of the popular 80s band WHAM! before beginning his solo career, where he was known for his catchy dance tunes and provocative lyrics.

In a June 2008 interview, Michael told the Los Angeles Times that his maternal grandmother was Jewish but married a non-Jewish man and raised her children with no knowledge of their Jewish background due to her fear during the period of World War II.

“She thought if they didn’t know that their mother was Jewish, they wouldn’t be at risk,” Michael told the newspaper. His mother attended a convent school, losing any shred of memory of her mother’s Jewishness.

Michael visited Israel in 2001.

He was named Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou when he was born in 1963 in London to Greek Cypriot parents.

Police said in a statement that the death was “unexplained but not suspicious,” and his publicist said he had not been ill.

Did you find a mistake in the article or inappropriate advertisement? Report to us