In the five years leading up to his death, singer George Michael had reportedly turned into a recluse and shied away from public scrutiny. His friends say he was battling health problems linked to a longtime dependency on drugs and was too embarrassed over some weight he had gained to want to be seen by the world.
The 53-year-old was last seen on Christmas Eve, watching a procession from a window as it made its way to the church next to his house in quaint Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England.
Among the small group of visitors allowed to see him were his childhood best friend, the singer and songwriter David Austin, and his sisters Melanie and Yioda, the Daily Mail reports.
Michael did not attend the Christmas Eve midnight mass at the local church as he had done in recent years. His boyfriend, Australian celebrity hair stylist Fadi Fawaz, had been seen in the town earlier in the day.
On Christmas Day, Fawaz found Michael dead in his bed, reports The Telegraph.
"George was a total perfectionist, always, but he had totally lost confidence," says one source close to his management.
Friends claim he kept himself away from prying eyes due to his older appearance and marked weight gain. He was also allegedly "horribly self-conscious" about some scars on his neck and head, caused by a 2013 car accident he was involved in while high on drugs.
The last captured photographs of him taken in September show him looking larger and middle-aged. He had been with former boyfriend Kenny Goss and other friends.
Family members believe a drug dependency may have been to blame for the health problems that led to his death.
Michael's publicist Cindi Berger stated he was "not ill" at the time of his death, and manager Michael Lippman explained his death was caused by "heart failure."
Michael had an unexplained breakdown in 2014 that allegedly required he be treated in his home in London, followed by a stay at a hospital.
He later reportedly spent a year in a $233,000-a-month clinic in Zurich in an attempt to beat his addiction to drugs such as crystal meth and crack cocaine.
Friend Jackie Georgiou once said: "It’s crack, it’s marijuana, it’s drink, it’s coke ... I’m petrified he will die."
She added: "He’s not the same. The spark has gone. He is not himself after his drug use."
He reportedly abandoned an active social life in Highgate, London, where he once lived, to move to the quiet village of Goring-on-Thames, following his stay at the Swiss clinic.
Local Goring residents found him exceptionally shy and reclusive.
"He used to go out and about a lot more when he first moved into the village, but in recent years he hasn’t really been seen," the manager of the Catherine Wheel pub in the village said. "He had changed over the years, got a lot bigger and wore glasses. He was very self-conscious. He just did not look like George Michael any more. It’s very sad."
Michael had been in the middle of preparing a 25th anniversary re-release of his 1990 album "Listen Without Prejudice" and was wrapping up a documentary called "Freedom," due to be released in March 2017, The Telegraph reports.