FF LONDON - George Michael's death was a ''massive shock'' to his friends because he'd been feeling ''good'' before his passing.

The 'Freedom' singer passed away from natural causes at the age of 53 last Christmas Day and his friend and former backing singer Shirlie Holliman was stunned by the news.

She said: ''It was a shock, a massive shock for us all, when he died. None of us were expecting it.

''He was good before he died, there was nothing wrong with him, so yes, it was a shock...

''George was someone who I loved and who loved me very much.

''I miss him and it is so sad for me, we knew each other for over 40 years and we laughed so much together and I have really special memories of him.''

George's fans were offered new music from the late star earlier this month, a track called 'Fantasy', which was a collaboration with Nile Rodgers, but Shirlie hasn't been able to listen to the song.

The former Pepsi and Shirlie singer told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: ''It makes me feel too sad. I can't. It is too sensitive for me at the moment.

''I will do so in time. Every day I go online and I think I will listen to it but it is very sensitive. I will do when I'm ready.

''I think George would be happy that it's out there. He loved making music for people to dance to, for people to enjoy, have fun, to make them smile. Music is George's legacy. We grew up dancing to his music and he would want people to go out and buy his music and enjoy it in the same way we did.

''There are generations of people to come and enjoy him yet, that's what he would love.''

While fans have called for a public memorial service for their idol, Shirlie - who has children Harley, 28, and Roman, 26, with husband Martin Kemp - thinks there are better ways to remember George.

She said: ''There are no plans for any memorial service. The best tribute to George is to go out and buy his music, dance to it and enjoy it.''