Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesPop music giant George Michael died on Christmas day at the age of 53, and ABC News paid tribute on 20/20 with a look back at the singer in his own words.
Michael sat down with the BBC for a documentary that was excerpted by 20/20, and the feature also used a 2008 interview with with former 20/20 anchor Chris Cuomo in which the musician discussed his career, his family, and his sexuality, rumors of which he believed would derail his career: “I had to…negotiate some new relationship with celebrity that wasn’t going to destroy me,” he admitted.
The songwriter and recording artist also explained how supportive his mother, Lesley Panayiotou, was of him, and how her death in 1997 affected him. “I remember her saying to me when I was about 17, “It must be so much easier for the parents of gay people now.” At the time I just thought, “Oh, she said the word ‘gay.'” And when I look back I just thought, “Oh, bless her heart, she just wanted me to tell her,” you know.”
After she died from cancer, George Michael admitted, “The only thing that got through it was my music — it survived. I wrote very, very little, but the little I wrote did well and kept my head above water. I didn’t cope at all. It was like depression and shock that just went on for years.”
Looking back at the time, Michael glimpsed the impact his music had. “You give people music for years and years when you write. You tie yourself to big events in their lives, you tie yourself to their childhood and their growing up and it’s a real privilege.”
The Daily Mail reports Michael will be buried in a plot next to his mother, at a Highgate Cemetery, near his North London home.
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