Music

Wham! backing vocalist Shirlie Kemp pays tribute to George Michael’s late sister Melanie


George Michael, Melanie Panayiotou and Shirlie Kemp (Pictures: Rex; Landmark Media)

Shirlie Kemp, who was a backing singer in the George Michael-fronted pop band Wham!, has paid tribute after the singer’s sister Melanie Panayiotou passed away on Christmas Day.

Shirlie called Melanie ‘one of the kindest most considerate of others I had ever met’.

Melanie, who was a singer, songwriter and environmentalist, died exactly three years after her famous brother.

The cause of her passing at the age of 55 is not yet known.

Faith singer George died of fatty liver disease on 25 December 2016.

Elaborating on her memories of Melanie, Shirlie added in an Instagram post: ‘We both shared a great love of flowers and many of the flowers in my photos were hers as she loved me photographing them.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6nGu0UhKzV/

‘Her kindness to me and others even when she was in pain herself was incredible.

‘I pray she is now with her beautiful brother and her lovely mother. Rest in peace dear Mel.’

Melanie was 55 when she died (Picture: Dave Hogan/Getty)

Melanie and George are survived by father Kyriacos Panayiotou and sister Yioda.

George’s mother Lesley passed away in 1997.

Confirming Melanie ‘passed away suddenly’ in a statement, her family added: ‘We would simply ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this very sad time. There will be no further comment.’

Shirlie is the wife of Spandau Ballet star and former EastEnders actor Martin Kemp.

Pepsi DeMacque, Andrew Ridgeley and Shirlie pay tribute to George at the 2007 Brit Awards. (Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

She, along with fellow Wham! backing singer Helen ‘Pepsi’ DeMacque, formed 80s pop duo Pepsi & Shirlie, who scored a number two single with 1986’s Heartache.

The duo originally found fame in Wham!, alongside George and Andrew Ridgeley.

Andrew has also spoken out about Melanie, tweeting yesterday: ‘Utterly tragic news of Mel Panayiotou’s passing. My thoughts are with her sister and father at this sad time.’



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MORE: George Michael’s sister Melanie Panayiotou dies exactly three years after her brother on Christmas Day

MORE: Andrew Ridgeley pays tribute as George Michael’s sister Melanie Panayiotou dies: ‘It’s desperately sad’





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