“I’ve been thinking about George Michael today, and the positive effect he’s had on this world,” she wrote on Monday, hours after a tweet from Sony Music Global’s account erroneously announced her death. “He was a brilliant artist, talented songwriter, inspiring performer, and did amazing things for the LGBTQ community. He will be missed, but his kind soul will never be forgotten. #RIPGeorgeMichael.”
Michael, 53, died of heart failure, per his manager. Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou to a Greek Cypriot restaurateur and his wife, the singer first emerged as a hit-maker with Andrew Ridgeley in the pop duo Wham! in the early 1980s. Their early hits included the songs “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper” and “Last Christmas.”
But he became a true pop icon after going solo in 1987, when his album “Faith” sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. In the span of his career, Michael sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
The pop star long self-identified as bisexual, but revealed in a 1999 interview with The Advocate that he was gay. “I never had a moral problem with being gay,” he said, further explaining that he thought he had fallen in love with a few women in his past. “Then I fell in love with a man, and realized that none of those things had been love,” added Michael.
Reports that Spears had died hit the web on Monday, after Sony Music Global’s Twitter account was hacked.
“RIP @britneyspears #RIPBritney 1981-2016,” the tweet read. Shortly after, a Twitter account belonging to the estate of Bob Dylan shared its condolences.
Both accounts were hacked by online group OurMine, according to Billboard, which obtained screen grabs of the tweets deleted by Sony Music roughly two hours after they were posted.
Spears is signed to Sony, a longtime flagship artist of its now-disbanded label Jive Records.