George Michael keeps faith with Vienna doctors

Tue Sep 4, 2012 11:45am EDT
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VIENNA (Reuters) - British singer George Michael hailed the Vienna medical team that brought him back from the brink of death last year as he prepared to resume his tour interrupted for months by a severe lung infection.

"Hey everyone, it's that time again! And I get to open the tour singing to the men and women who saved my life," he posted on his Twitter account on Tuesday. "And it's a beautiful day!"

The former Wham! frontman, who went on to pursue a successful solo career, fell ill in the Austrian capital in November and was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. He spent a month in Vienna's General Hospital under intensive care.

Austrian media reported that 300 hospital staff - from doctors to cleaning crews - would attend Tuesday evening's show. With his permission, the hospital is selling another 700 concert tickets he donated to raise money for lung disease research.

The near-death experience prompted Michael's new single "White Light", which he performed at the closing ceremony of the London Olympic Games.

Michael, 49, had been in the middle of a European tour when he became ill and was forced to cancel a string of dates but has promised to play to every fan who had bought a ticket.

Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Michael burst on to the British pop scene in the early 1980s as the lead singer of Wham!, which had a string of catchy hits including "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Last Christmas".

That launched a standout solo career that featured chart-toppers like "Careless Whisper" and "A Different Corner".

His rich vein continued with the 1987 No. 1 "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" in which he performed with Aretha Franklin, one of his favorite artists.   Continued...