George Michael once spoke candidly about his history of drug use, including admitting to smoking crack cocaine.
As questions surrounding the pop legend’s passing continue to swirl, a 2009 interview with Michael sheds light on the extent of his substance abuse, though there is no official indication that his death was tied to drugs.
“People want to see me as tragic with all the cottaging (anonymous sex between men in a public restroom) and drug-taking,” Michael told The Guardian. “I think it removes people’s envy to see your weaknesses. I don’t even see them as weaknesses any more. It’s just who I am.”
Michael died of heart failure and was found in his home on Christmas Day, his rep told PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly. He was 53. Michael’s publicist confirmed that the iconic singer passed away “peacefully” and said there were “no suspicious circumstances” surrounding the singer’s death.
He admitted to the publication that he was smoking crack cocaine at the time of his 2008 arrest, in which he was charged with drug possession.
“I’ve done different things at different times that I shouldn’t have done, once or twice, you know,” Michael said then. “Nobody wants to regularly smoke crack.”
He added that he has completed more than 100 “really good performances, and none of my musicians can ever say they’ve seen me wasted.”
Michael sat with a bag of marijuana and a slew of pills on the table in front of him as he defended his drug use to the Guardian. He said then that, at the time, he smoked at least seven joints a day. When asked what the pills are for, Michael tells the writer to “mind his own business,” but then explained “some of them are vitamin, some are anti-smoking and some are for my back.”
He revealed that just four years earlier he was “existing on a balance of Starbucks and weed.”
Michael’s history with alcohol and drugs – including marijuana – is well-documented. In 2010, the star would find himself behind bars for crashing his car into a storefront. He was charged with driving while unfit through drink or drugs and spent four months in jail.
Michael later said that it was the crash that led him to address his drug problems.
“I realized it had to be something to do with me. It shook me out of my denial,” he said in an interview at the time. “After that crash happened, I started drug counseling and was two weeks in detox, none of which I made public. It feels so completely behind me now. It really does.”