American Idol season seven finalist Michael Johns died unexpectedly on Aug. 1. He was 35-years-old.
A fan favorite since he first auditioned in 2007 with the Otis Redding song, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” the Australian rocker was known for his soulful singing style and dashing good looks. He finished in eighth place but went on to have a busy career as a singer, appearing on the TV special Hit Man: David Foster and Friends as well as various charity functions.
Read tributes and remembrances from across the Idol world and beyond below.
“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.” — Nigel Lythgoe, American Idol producer
“I’m so torn up over the news about Michael Johns. Michael was not just an amazing talent, he was an incredible human being who was so full of life that the notion of it stopping is incomprehensible to me. His echo will live on forever…” — Paula Abdul, American Idol judge, seasons one through eight
“I’m very sad to hear of Michael Johns’ passing. We worked together when I did a song on his record. What I remember about him is not just that he had a great soulful voice, but also that he was a really good guy. In my opinion he was one of the best singers to come from Idol. My thoughts and prayers to his family.” — Diane Warren, award-winning songwriter
“Mike was one of the first people I bonded with when I got to Hollywood week, and I can honestly say that the depth and pressure associated with the first few weeks of the Idol experience would’ve eaten me alive, had it not been for Mike. He had a way of making this gigantic, life-altering event seem small and manageable. To say I’m shocked and saddened is a gross understatement. I’m completely gutted for his family, including his wife, Stacey. I hope they can find at least some small amount of solace in the fact that he made mine and many others’ lives so much better by having known him.” — David Cook, American Idol season seven winner
“Michael was a very good friend of mine and me and everyone he’s touched is devastated by the news of his passing. He was always a bright spirit who wore his heart on his sleeve. Sounds cliche but he truly was a joy to be around. I’m miss his laugh, his smile and that ridiculously amazing voice of his. I’ll miss the random phone calls just to check in and the time I was blessed to share the stage with him. He just had an infectious attitude that made you feel like nothing was a big deal. He would give you a compliment and criticism without the slightest bit of snark. Mostly I’m sad for his wife Stacey and his best friend Torrey who are truly broken by this news. This is a very hard time.” — Brandon Rogers, American Idol season six finalist
“Well, darn… what do I say. Yesterday I learned the news that we lost this dear friend of ours and I just haven’t processed it. It’s tragic and I’m sad. I just had the thought the other day while driving down the freeway, that if someone asked me who my favorite male voice was it’d be Michael johns. Man I wish I had picked up the phone to tell him that, but I didn’t. He was stupidly talented, handsome, charismatic, funny and quite a complicated character. I loved singing with the guy. We toured the west coast and shared the stage too many times to count, recorded a couple great duets, wrote ‘little bird’ and a few other tunes together. He believed in my voice and was so generous with his compliments. And sometimes he was a real stinker too. His fans were the most devoted and obsessed I’ve seen. He was supposed to be the special guest at my Christmas show and he called me to cancel a few weeks ago, that was the last we spoke. It’s weird to think we won’t sing another tune together again in this lifetime. Isn’t it weird. My heart goes out to his family, his fans, friends, to his Stacy and his beloved Puddy. Michael Johns, we will miss you hard… you will always be my favorite Australian.” — Brooke White, American Idol season seven finalist (via Facebook)
“I’m completely overwhelmed by the news of my good friend and American Idol alum Michael Johns death right now! I first met Michael during the American Idol boot camp for Season 8. He came and performed for us and I was so nervous to meet him – he was famous! He was so nice to me that day. We became good friends and performed several shows together through the years. He was super down to earth and always the life of the party. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Stacey and his entire family. He will truly be missed.” — Michael Sarver, American Idol season eight finalist
“I am shocked and heartbroken. Michael Johns was first and foremost a great human being. He was also a very talented singer/songwriter. He will be missed dearly. Life is not fair and there’s no rhyme or reason why things happen the way they do. Rest in peace my friend.” — Anthony Fedorov, American Idol season four finalist
“Atlanta is where Michael Johns developed his musical chops, playing cover songs in bars in the neighborhood of Buckhead from 1998 to 2002. Even after Idol, he’d come back to Atlanta and play the Tin Roof Cantina, drinking Jaegermeister and goofing around with his musician buddies, resurrecting songs by Tom Petty, Elton John, Sublime and Live, to name a few. And he especially loved aping Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Friends who have stayed in touch with him here over the years loved his spirit, his musicianship and his sense of fun. I’ve talked to him over the years and while he never became a superstar, he seemed super grateful of the opportunities Idol gave him and the doors it opened. I offer my deepest condolences to his family.” — Rodney Ho, Atlanta Journal Constitution entertainment blogger who has covered Idol since 2002
“A few years before Michael tried out for Idol, his band the Rising visited Yahoo. He was so charismatic, I assumed he’d soon be a massive rock star. After that didn’t happen, I was pleased to see him resurface on Idol because, at age 28, he was running out of opportunities, and he really deserved a break. I pretty much assumed he’d win the show; I certainly thought he’d go farther than eighth place. I recall watching that infamous night when he was eliminated, at my office, and all of my co-workers were SCREAMING over such a crazy result. If the Judges’ Save had existed then, Michael would’ve surely gotten it. In fact, he’s probably the reason why the Save was invented in the first place. Michael was one of those unfortunate music-business stories, which we see way too much of on shows like Idol and The Voice, who came thisclose to making it but somehow, the stars never quite aligned for him. The one positive thing that has come out of this tragedy is seeing all the tributes to him, with his talent finally getting the recognition it deserves.” — Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo music editor
— josh groban (@joshgroban) August 2, 2014
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Michael Johns. Tonight’s show is dedicated in your honor .
— Caleb Perry Johnson (@CalebJohnson) August 2, 2014
I just heard the very sad news that Michael Johns has passed away. A truly great guy. Rest in peace Michael.
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) August 3, 2014
We lost a true, honest friend. @michael_johns was a great man. Please send prayers to his wife Stacey and their families.
— Ace Young (@IAMACEYOUNG) August 2, 2014
So Sad. Too soon. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. RIP Michael Johns
— Randy Jackson (@YO_RANDYJACKSON) August 3, 2014
Michael Johns, RIP sweet gentle man.
— Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) August 3, 2014
Heartbroken- Michael Johns’ passing. He even released a song w/ proceeds to ALS after learning about it due to my mom’s passing. A gr8 guy.
— Nancy O’Dell (@NancyODell) August 3, 2014
Just heard the devastating news of the loss of former A.I. Alum Michael Johns. So so sad. Please keep his family in your thoughts & prayers.
— Danny Gokey (@dannygokey) August 3, 2014
Feeling so sad with the news of @michael_johns passing. He’s such a wonderful person. R.I.P
— Jessica Sanchez (@JessicaESanchez) August 3, 2014
RIP Michael Johns! Your wonderful talent and spirit lives on! You will be missed!
— Debra Byrd (@ByrdsStarSchool) August 3, 2014
RIP to michaeljohns my friend from American idol. He was such a fun person to be around and was… http://t.co/SzJq8wvced
— Kristy Lee Cook (@kristyleecook) August 3, 2014
- This article originally appeared on THR.com.