Darius Campbell Danesh, the Scottish singer who gained fame on the inaugural season of Pop Idol, died on Tuesday (Aug. 16). He was 41.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh,” his family said in a statement to the BBC. “Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11 and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiners’ office.
“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. The cause of his sudden death is unknown at this stage while medical examinations continue,” the statement went on. “We ask that you kindly respect our wishes for privacy at this time whilst we come to terms with the tragic loss of our son and brother.”
The Scottish performer first burst onto the U.K.’s national spotlight on the short-lived 2001 reality series Popstars, where he made a splash with his inventive, octave-leaping cover of Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.” At the time, judge Nigel Lythgoe labeled him a “show-off” for his theatrics, but Danesh pivoted after his elimination by auditioning for Pop Idol later that same year.
On the precursor to American Idol, Danesh made it all the way to the top three with eventual winner Will Young and runner-up Gareth Gates. Following the show, he signed a deal with Mercury Records and wound up releasing two solo albums: 2002’s Dive In and 2004’s Live Twice. His debut single “Colourblind” bowed at No. 1 on the U.K. Official Singles Chart in July 2002 and reigned atop the list for two weeks.
Later in his career, Danesh was also a regular figure on the West End, starring as Billy Flynn in Chicago, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind.