Three years to the day after the death of George Michael, the singer’s sister Melanie Panayiotou has died. The siblings’ older sister, Yioda, found Melanie on Wednesday, the evening of Christmas Day, and notified the London ambulance service. Melanie, a hairdresser and makeup artist who shared the responsibilities for Michael’s estate with her family, was 55 at the time of her death.
The Panayiotous’ family lawyer confirmed Melanie’s death in a statement to the BBC. “We can confirm that very tragically, Melanie has passed away suddenly. We would simply ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this very sad time.”
London Metropolitan police said Melanie’s death was “sudden” and that they were not treating it as suspicious.
Melanie maintained a close relationship with her brother during his lifetime and would travel with him and cut his hair on the road, according to The Guardian. After his death, he left her £50 million in his will, along with a significant part of his estate. The estate recently worked on the production of the film Last Christmas, which drew inspiration from Wham!’s yuletide hit of the same name as well as Michael’s catalog of songs.
Along with her family, Melanie issued a statement remembering her brother two days before the third anniversary of his death. “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,” the statement read. “Everyone has been working so hard to bring you his music, the movie is going to be there to celebrate and remember [George] and his music well into the future … and we thank everyone whose efforts brought his music to you. 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).”
In a 1985 interview with No. 1 Magazine (via the BBC) Melanie said that her brother hadn’t been like other boys when he was growing up. “From what I remember, he was never interested in the kind of things the rest of the fellas were, like football and cars and things like that,” she said. “He wasn’t an introvert, and I wouldn’t say he was shy like some people have made out. He definitely knew what he wanted to do at an early age.” She also said that when fans would ask for clips of his hair, she told them, “It goes in the bin like everyone else’s.”