Several U.K. newspapers are reporting that singer George Michael had battled a “secret heroin addiction” in his final days.
According to the Daily Telegraph, quoting an unnamed source, Michael had “been rushed to A&E on several occasions,” referring to a hospital’s accident & emergency department, the U.K.’s term for an emergency room.
Michael, 53, died on Sunday evening. His publicist said he died of heart failure, although a medical evaluation has not yet been conducted.
“He used heroin. I think it’s amazing he’s lasted as long as he has,” the source added.
Michael’s friend, the publicist Gary Farrow, also noted that the former WHAM! frontman had “easy access to drugs.” He told The Sun: “I thought George was too bright to get involved with illegal substances. But once this disease gets hold of you, it’s hard to fight it.”
A post mortem for Michael slated to be carried out in the next few days after his death was called “unexplained but not suspicious” by police who were investigating at his home in Oxfordshire.
Michael was found by celebrity hairstylist Fadi Fawaz, who told The Telegraph: “I want people to remember him the way he was—he was a beautiful person.”
In recent months, the singer had become increasingly reclusive, with neighbors seldom having seen him out and about.
On his 53rd birthday, he told fans on Twitter: “To my lovelies and fans around the world, thank you for all the birthday wishes, I am truly overwhelmed. I am looking forward to spending it with friends and family, thank again, love The Singing Greek!”
Meanwhile, details of his charitable nature have emerged after his death.
According to The Daily Beast, he gave millions of dollars to charities and individuals. For example, he gave the royalties from No. 1 single “Jesus to a Child” to the Childline charity. Author and journalist Sali Hughes also noted that he Michael once tipped a barmaid more than $6,100 “because she was a student nurse in debt.”