‘He was my inspiration’: fans flock to George Michael’s Highgate home

Mourners say death of singer whose music they grew up with is like losing one of the family

George Michael fans have flocked to Highgate in north London to leave flowers and tributes outside the singers home after his <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/25/george-michael-pop-superstar-dies-at-53″ data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>death on Christmas Day.

We love you George, from South Africa, read one of the many cards. Words are not enough I will always have faith in the sound, another said. A third stated: Last Christmas you gave us your heart. We give you our Christmas.

Helen Frichtinger, 46, of north London, was visiting with her twin sister, Heidi, and a group of friends whom she had met in 2006 on a George Michael fan forum. It was when George first started touring for [the album] Twenty Five. We went to so many gigs, he knew of us he called us his lovelies, she said.

Her sister added: We met people from England, Europe, America and Australia and have become lifelong friends, all because of George. He had this unique talent of bringing people together. It was because he had so much charisma hed be on stage in front of 20,000 people and youd feel he was singing only to you. He could connect to people and his audience, thats what gave him the greatest pleasure.

The twins were devastated when they heard about Michaels death. Theres no words, Heidi said. Its like losing one of the family. We all grew up with him. Things change in your life, you grow up, you get a job, you get married, you break up, but hes always been the constant. We even played his song You Have Been Loved at our mums funeral because it meant so much to us she got so much enjoyment from it. He wasnt just a pop star, he was a part of us. And now hes died, a part of us has died with him.

Helen said Michael had lived his life the way he wanted to, he was true to himself and never conformed. Thats the message people should take away from his life and work: that you only get one life, and you should live it to the fullest.

Heidi said Michaels legacy would be a lasting one. A lot of the press had a certain perception of him and didnt appreciate how compassionate and giving he was. All the news coming out now about his charity work is no surprise to his fans, we knew that. He never jumped up and said arent I so good for giving money to charity, it was always done behind the scenes he didnt do it for attention.

Another visitor, Maxine, 47, said she had met Michael twice, once in 1985 at Brixton Academy when Wham! were rehearsing for a concert in China, and the second time in Highgate a few years ago. I was walking through and he was coming down the end of the road. It was either go up to him or run away, she recalled. My husband plucked up the courage to approach him. He was lovely, a gentleman, a very humble person. He asked what we thought of the concert, how he did.

Ive never felt this way ever from any other celebrity dying. You feel like your childhood, everything youve lived through with him has gone. He was my number one idol; no ones ever taken his place and no one ever will.

Isra Sadiq said she would never forget attending one of Michaels concerts in Denmark, where she is from. I was 10 years old when I first heard Georges music, she said through tears. He was always my legend, my inspiration, especially when I was a teenager. His music always had beautiful lyrics with meaning. When I found out, I was so shocked. Im so sad, so sad.

Roberto Sansone, 29, from Naples but now living in London, said: It is very sad, he was an artist that touched different generations and many people. Besides the art, the character himself was a great personality. Very open, never shy to reveal his own identity. Growing up I listened to his music a lot. My mum is also a fan and made me discover him.

He continued: I was at home when I found out he died. My best friend knows Im a big fan and sent me a text message to tell me. I was immediately very sad, he was one of those personalities who you dont believe will go. It was like a clash with reality. You think of them as immortal. Ever since I was born, George Michael has always been around, I almost took for granted that he was there. The message people should take away is: live your life fully and dont be afraid.

Tomas Christobh, 37, had travelled from Lewisham, in south London, to pay his respects. Ive been a big fan of George since I first heard his music as a teenager in the Czech Republic, he said. He had a good voice, he was good looking, he was an entertainer, he had everything, he had the X factor. This morning I was thinking about when I lived in Australia and heard one of his songs that was so good I just had to go to a club and dance the way he did in the video. So I went to a club, waited for the song to come on, and as soon as it did, I hit the dance floor. I wasnt even thinking about girls because I was concentrating so hard on my dance moves.

Locals in Highgate have reported that the singer was friendly and approachable, often speaking to neighbours and fans during long walks in the park or trips to a cafe.

One resident, Walter, told the press on Monday that he and his wife had known Michael for years, and that the singer had visited the couples lifestyle and interior shop in Highgate. He did a lot for the village, Walter said.

In 2010 Michael turned up at a fans birthday party at a restaurant in Swains Lane, close to his home, and entertained the guests with a few songs. Neighbours and passing pedestrians stuck their noses to the restaurants window to catch a glimpse of one of the worlds biggest stars performing in a tiny bistro in north London, the Camden New Journal reported at the time.

To me he was the best, Christobh said. What a shame he couldnt stay around for longer. What a shame I didnt have a chance to meet him.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/27/he-was-my-inspiration-fans-flock-to-george-michaels-highgate-home

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