Three years to the day after George Michael passed away on Christmas Day 2016 , his sister Melanie Panayiotou has died aged 55.
Their older sister Yioda Panayiotou found hairdresser Melanie dead at home on December 25.
In a statement to the Mirror , the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 19:35hrs on Wednesday, 25 December to reports of the sudden death of a woman, aged in her 50s, at an address in Oak Hill Park, NW3.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious by police.
“A report will be compiled for the Coroner into the circumstances.”
The siblings were very close from birth, with Melanie travelling around the world with her beloved brother at the height of his fame.
She was also with him for most of his life milestones, and George left the bulk of his estate to her and Yioda when he died aged 53 from heart and fatty liver disease.
Melanie had spoken proudly of her famous brother in November, telling The Big Issue about the release of the George-inspired Christmas movie Last Christmas.
“My family and I hope you all enjoy the film, and Yog’s music old and new, woven beautifully into this fun, easy tale of love and self-love,” she wrote in the publication.
“As many of you know, Yog adored Christmas and he loved the idea of this film. I am sure he will be enjoying seeing Emelia [Clark]’s amazing light bulb smile, something they share, across the celestial miles!
“And, most importantly, we all, together with our dear departed Yog (my ‘very proud to be gay’ brother — contrary to what you may have read recently!) wish a very merry, merry Christmas to Big Issue sellers and readers alike,” Melanie added.
She was a fierce advocate for her big brother, joking in a 1985 interview that she didn’t take too much notice of headlines about his sex life.
“We can be quite honest with each other and we also share the same sense of humour,” she told No.1 Magazine of their similarities at the time.
“Those he speaks to might easily misinterpret what he says. He’s definitely not mean. In fact he’s a generous type, but not in the way that he would flaunt it. It’s quite true what he said about money not being all that important to him,” she went on.
“He shows his generosity in subtle ways. Like he won’t go out and buy jewellery, furs, cars and the like for the family. But then he’ll be going on a world tour and suddenly there are air tickets, hotel bookings and the entire works for Mum, Dad, my sister and I. And what better than the chance to see China, Japan, America, The Far East. It’s lovely.”
Melanie’s death came just two days after she issued a joint statement with the rest of the Panayiotou family thanking George’s fans for standing by them.
“Hello Everybody, Lovelies, (and pets of Lovelies)! We have come full circle again and Christmas time (and the holidays), are upon us once more,” she had written with Yioda, dad Jack and George’s manager David Austin on December 23.
“I think we as a family, (there are lots of us, we Greek Cypriots, we’re everywhere)!! have come to fully appreciate (although we already knew really), quite how much love there is out there in the world, for both Yog and his beautiful music.
“We know how much his lyrics can offer support when things are tough and help celebrate when times are good and life is going well… and that is just as powerful now as if he were still with us and as many of you say in your messages, it’s a gift.”
The family had gone on: “It seems important that his generosity of spirit and natural empathy have touched you in a way that would have him embarrassed, all your kind words are really good to hear and we know you have always known his true heart.
“Thank you for embracing and supporting the ‘Last Christmas’ movie and soundtrack, we knew you would enjoy it!! ‘This Is How’ is good, isn’t it?? We love that you love it, as would Yog.
“Everyone has been working so hard to bring you his music, the movie is going to be there to celebrate and remember Yog and his music well into the future…and we thank everyone whose efforts brought his music to you.”
The statement continued: “We will be swerving the bad and enjoying the good as much as we can this coming year (2019 has been difficult and busy for George’s hardworking team).
“We are, as usual, staying as positive as possible, which is what we and Yog would wish for you all, and we are all hoping for a peaceful 2020. (Wow 2020! – when you grew up with Yog, that used to seem so far away but, here we are folks – It’s the future)!!!
“We’ll close by saying, don’t forget to say your ‘I Love You’s’ and enjoy your celebrations wherever you are. Thank you so much for your kind messages, they lift us when things are tough.
“Keep on doing those good deeds in his memory, ‘paying it forward’ if you can.
“‘Take Care’ he says from up there in the stars, with mum, Anselmo, and his beloved doggies.”
The statement concluded: “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and celebrations to you all – we send our best from here in London! Melanie, Yioda, Jack & David x.”