Several weeks after George Michael died, plunging millions of his fans around the world into shock and mourning, his former lover and close friend Kenny Goss went to pay his respects to George’s grieving father at his home in Hertfordshire.
The former Wham! frontman and global superstar, with the notoriously turbulent private life, had died unexpectedly at the age of 53 on Christmas Day 2016, and his body was still in the custody of the coroner.
Kenny, whose romantic relationship with the star lasted for 13 years, might have reasonably wondered what reception he would get when he arrived on the doorstep.
After all, by many accounts, George had had a complicated relationship with his father, Greek Cypriot restaurateur Kyriacos Panayiotou, known as Jack, who, it was claimed, had never accepted his son’s homosexuality.
But what Kenny encountered that day warmed him to his heart. ‘When he opened the door, Jack was bawling. He was very, very emotional and kept saying over and over that he’d lost his son. He said: “He’d be alive if he was still with you,” ’ remembers Kenny.
‘He pulled me into his arms and, at one point, George’s sister Melanie tried to lighten the atmosphere, saying, “OK, you can let go now, you guys”. Families are complicated but there’s no doubt in my mind that George’s father loved him deeply and came to accept George for who he was.’
Interest in the much-loved singer-songwriter, who sold 130 million records globally, has been rekindled recently following the release of a new book and two films about his extraordinary life and career.