The famous British Cypriot singer-songwriter George Michael, Georgios Kyriakos Panayiotou, sadly passed away at his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day aged 53 years-old. His death has been said to be due to a suspected heart failure. The UK Greek Cypriots feel like they‘re saying goodbye to one of their own. People from all over the country have visited his Highgate house to lay flowers, cards and candles; you can see the Greek and Cypriot flag hoisted on the fence gate of his place.
George Michael was born on June 25th 1963, in East Finchley. He leaves behind his father Kyriacos Panayiotou, aka Jack Panos, a Greek restaurateur from Patriki in Karpasia and his two sisters Melanie and Yioda. His mother Lesley Anigold Panayiotou was an English lady and a dancer who passed away in 1997.
George Michael was known to have generously pledged his signed discs for London Greek Radio‘s Radiomarathon appeal, he never liked it publicised as such although the set-up around the charity would often mention it on-air and very understandably.
Cyprus’s Deputy Government Spokesperson, Victoras Papadopoulos, and ex-journalist of London Greek Radio, speaking to Cypriot media’s Sigma Live reflects about his personal encounter with pop star George Michael.
”I met George Michael while working as a journalist for London Greek Radio between 1989 -1995 during my postgraduate studies,” Papadopoulos told Sigma Live English.
”At the time George Michael was at the height of his fame.”
”For at least two consecutive years, from what I remember, he visited the radio station and gifted gold vinyl’s to be auctioned for Cyprus’ Radiomarathonios Foundation, at which LGR participated.”
Our listener Kat Koulle tweeted in: Remember listening to @LGR1033 Radiomarathon when I was younger and George would often donate a signed CD to raise money. #RIPGeorge
London Greek Radio has been supporting Radiomarathon Centre based in Turkey Street in the borough of Enfield, where the listeners fundraising is helping children and young adults with learning disabilities at the centre, for a number of years.
Since George Michael’s death, revelations of his acts of kindness and generosity have seen the light of day, for a person who liked his anonymity to be kept. His philanthropic acts helped Terrence Higgins Trust and Macmillan Cancer Trust, as did the UK Thalassaemia Society (UKTS), of which he was Patron.
He gave a student nurse £5,000.00 to cover her debt and £15,000.00 for IVF treatment all anonymously. He also issued free tickets to nurses to watch his concert in Wembley. All the royalties to his 1996 single ‘Jesus to a Child’ went to Childline, reveals its founder and president Dame Esther, very determined it wasn’t out in the public knowledge.
High-level Cypriot figures and individuals have added tributes including the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Christos Karaolis speaking to London Greek Radio, stated: ”George Michael is one of the most well-known U.K. Cypriots, selling over 100 million records worldwide and winning multiple music awards including 3 Brit Awards. Through his outstanding contribution to the music industry and charity over the years, he highlighted the proud and exceptional contribution of Cypriots to the UK. He will be greatly missed but his legacy will live on. Our hearts go out to his family”.
WE have since learnt that Michael almost represented Cyprus at 1984’s Eurovision Song Contest with song ‘Anna Maria Lena’…?? Andy Paul that year was our Cypriot entry obviously…
He revealed the original idea was to have Michael perform it and they discussed it at great lengths, with the powers that be. Michael’s father Jack pushed the idea to have Michael sing it, only to be refused because he couldn’t sing Greek. As it turned out to be, Eurovision rules only permitted countries to sing in their language that time. Andy on his Facebook page noting: ”We stayed in contact and we met up a few times in the 80’s. He was a great artist and a warm human being. He will be missed, RIP George.”
The singer Andy Kyriacou writing on his Facebook page tells of his knowing Michael. ”We all know how talented he was, but he was also one of the loveliest and most genuine guys that I met on the music scene. I came across him regularly in the 80’s and he was so polite and gentle, always making the effort to come and say Hi. I’m proud to have made his acquaintance and equally proud that he was a fellow Greek Cypriot. Another great person taken from us with still, so much to offer. RIP George”.
One of our listeners actor Jimmy Andreas speaking on London Greek Radio recollected a personal story at Michael’s dad’s restaurant, during the heyday of his fame in the 1980’s Wham! He said a young Cypriot girl, a huge fan, she was absolutely delighted to see George Michael in the restaurant, ‘This is my son!’ his dad Jack proudly asserted.
Known as Yogo to his friends was inspiring others particularly Cypriots in the creativity industry, such as actress Eve Polycarpou. She was one-half of comedy duo Donna and Kebab alongside Martha Lewis in the 80’s, she felt empowered and inspired in ‘so many ways’ by his successes, in the 1980’s. Seeing British Cypriots excelling in the performing arts, breaking through was a totally big thing she pointed out on her Facebook page.
Pop star Peter Andre said that George Michael was ‘an incredible talent’ and that his is ‘an incredible loss’; while the distinguished maternal fetal medicine specialist Professor Kypros Nicolaides said he was shocked by news of the singer’s death and that he felt proud to share Cyprus with him as their fatherland.
The well-known psychologist and author Dr Linda Papadopoulos said that a George Michael poster used to be the biggest one in her teenage room wall. ”I was a fan of George, in every way, throughout my life and I’m truly devastated that he left this world so early – he brought so much happiness to so many. My thoughts go out to his family at this very difficult time. Rest in Peace, amazing George; not sure how this world is ever going to dance again without you here,” Dr Papadopoulos.
UK Cypriot entrepreneur Theo Paphitis tweeted that George Michael was an ‘unbelievable legend’ and singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgiou) tweeted that he was very sad to hear of his ‘Cypriot brother’ passing away.
The late pop icon will reportedly be laid to rest at Highgate Cemetery, next to his beloved mum in the family’s private plot.
Full details of the funeral are yet to be announced but it’s believed there may be two ceremonies – one for the family and another for fans.
R.I.P George, rest with the angels. Legend… You will live on forever.