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September 20, 2017

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Fans mourn pop star George Michael

LONDON -- Grieving fans on Monday mourned the death of George Michael as British charities revealed that the pop star had secretly been a major behind-the-scenes donor who gave his time and money to support cherished causes.

The man with the reputation for self-indulgence had actually given millions of pounds to charities involved with helping children, cancer victims and AIDS sufferers.

He was also remembered for small acts of kindness: helping his village in north London get a Christmas tree, and volunteering at a homeless shelter.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney posted a statement on his website praising Michael's "sweet soul music," which he said will live on.

"Having worked with him on a number of occasions his great talent always shone through and his self-deprecating sense of humor made the experience even more pleasurable," McCartney said, posting a picture of the two of them together.

The singer's death was announced late Sunday. Many paid tribute on Facebook and Twitter and others cited years of good works that received little publicity — largely because Michael insisted on keeping his charity work out of the limelight.

Fans placed flowers and other tributes at his homes in north London and in Goring, England, where he died of apparent heart failure.

Michael's later years were marked by occasional brushes with the law and a series of driving incidents related to substance abuse, but this was overlooked Monday as directors of major charities and advocacy groups stepped forward to praise him.

Among the groups he supported were the Terrence Higgins Trust, which helps people with AIDS, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Childline, which offers confidential phone counseling for young people.

Childline founder Esther Rantzen said Michael gave royalties from his 1996 hit "Jesus To A Child" to the charity along with many other donations.

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