This week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly looks back on the life and legacy of George Michael, whose death at age 53 was announced on Christmas Day. Over his nearly four decade career, Michael was many things to many people: a teen idol, a sex symbol, a freedom fighter who challenged societal norms and made some of the most fearless music of the ’80s and ’90s. Three friends and collaborators — supermodel Cindy Crawford, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge, and duet partner Aretha Franklin — opened up to EW about their memories of Michael. For more on his extraordinary life, pick up this week’s issue, on stands Friday.

Credit: Herb Ritts/Trunk Archive

Cindy Crawford

The supermodel remembers her role in his “Freedom! ‘90” video

Melissa Etheridge

The songwriter recalls how Michael, who struggled with his sexuality, was ultimately a beacon for the LGBT world.

Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul looks back on her collaboration with Michael for the Grammy-winning 1987 single “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me).”