American Idol Season 7 finalist Michael Johns died Friday at the age of 35, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which cites multiple sources. The cause of death is believed to be a blood clot in his ankle.
Fox, Fremantlemedia North America and 19 Entertainment posted a statement on American Idol‘s official Facebook page Saturday that reads, “Michael Johns was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of his passing. He was a part of our AMERICAN IDOL family and he will be truly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
The Perth, Australia, native was born Michael John Lee, but changed his name in 2006 as a tribute to his grandfather, whose first name was John. Thus, the name Johns.
Johns originally dreamed of being a professional tennis player, until the music bug hit him when he was 15 years old. A tennis scholarship ended up being his ticket to the United States.
The singer auditioned for American Idol in 2008 with Otis Redding‘s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and ultimately finished in eighth place. David Cook won that season Johns followed his time on American Idol with a full-length album a year later titled, Hold Back My Heart. It included the single “Heart on My Sleeve.“
Johns performed on the PBS television special, Hit Man: David Foster and Friends, and also appeared on a 2012 episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Here are some of the tributes and remembrances from people connected to American Idol:
Nigel Lythgoe, American Idol producer: “His acoustic version of the Bee Gees‘ ‘To Love Somebody’ was very special but I will always remember him singing the Beatles‘ ‘You Never Give Me Your Money/Golden Slumbers.’ One of his favorite songs. … He was a great talent and dear friend. My boys and I were devastated to hear the news.” Lythgoe tweeted “God Bless you Michael.”
Reigning Idol champion, Caleb Johnson via Twitter Saturday: “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Michael Johns. Tonight’s show is dedicated in your honor.”
Paula Abdul via Twitter: I’m heartbroken over the loss of @michael_johns. His enormous talent, gigantic heart & infectious personality will live in my heart forever.”
Simon Cowell via Twitter: “I just heard the very sad news that Michael Johns has passed away. A truly great guy. Rest in peace Michael.”
Randy Jackson via Twitter: “So Sad. Too soon. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. RIP Michael Johns.”
Kris Allen via Twitter: “Incredibly sad need about Michael Johns. Always so inviting to me and my family. Prayers go out to his family.”
Johns leaves behind his wife, Stacey. The couple met in 2003 and tied the knot in 2007.
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