'American Idol' Finalist Michael Johns Dead at Age 35

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music

Michael Johns, the Australian blue-eyed soul crooner of American Idol Season 7, has died at age 35. Johns is the first Idol top 10 finalist to pass away in the show's 13-season history.

Michael Johns, American Idol Season 7 Finalist, Dead at 35 [photo: Fox]
Michael Johns, American Idol Season 7 Finalist, Dead at 35 [photo: Fox]

While the singer's family has not yet issued an official cause-of-death statement, sources have told The Hollywood Reporter it was a blood clot in his ankle. A close friend of the Idol, Torrey Gimbill, told E! News that Johns was complaining about pains in his legs the day before his death. "My mom took him into the emergency room [Thursday]," said Gimbill. "He had complained about his leg hurting him; he thought it might be a blood clot because it had bruised pretty badly and he never hurt his leg."

According to TMZ, doctors sent Johns home on Thursday, finding nothing wrong; the next day he was discovered in an unresponsive state on his friend's couch, and he was dead by the time paramedics arrived at the scene.

"It is with a heavy heart and inconsolable sadness that we confirm the passing of our friend Michael Johns. No other details will b avail at this time. Please respect the privacy of Mike's family and friends as we know u will. Members and admin of @mjohnsonline pass on their prayers," the administrator for Johns's website tweeted Saturday, confirming the tragic news.

American Idol issued a statement Saturday afternoon, saying: “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.”

Johns was born in Perth, Australia, in 1978, and he moved to the States in 1997. There, he fronted the rock bands Film and the Rising, the latter of which signed to Madonna's Maverick Records in 2002. After that deal, and a second solo deal with Columbia, fell through, Johns tried out for American Idol in July 2007, when he was 28, and he made the show's top 10 the following year.

From the start of his Idol run, the charismatic Johns was one of the standouts and heartthrobs of Season 7, wowing fans with his soulful covers of Fleetwood Mac, Beatles, and Dolly Parton songs and his resemblance to rock icons like Jim Morrison and Michael Hutchence. Even in a competitive season featuring the likes of David Cook, David Archuleta, Jason Castro, Brooke White, and Carly Smithson, many viewers thought Johns had a good chance to win the show.

When Johns was cut from the competition in eighth place — very cruelly, during "Idol Gives Back" week — it was a shock, and his elimination was often cited by the show's producers as a reason to instate the "Judges' Save" just one season later.

Johns continued to record and perform, releasing his post-Idol effort Hold Back My Heart in 2009 and dueting with fellow Season 7 finalist Brooke White on her album, High Hopes & Heartbreak.

Post by Brooke White.

In one of his final tweets, Johns expressed excitement over working on new music in the studio.

Johns is survived by his wife since 2007, Stacey Vuduris. With the news just breaking, Johns's Facebook page is being flooded with memories from fans. The singer's website, http://michaeljohnsonline.com, appears to be down, as of this writing. Members of the Idol and music community have taken to Twitter to express their grief.

Yahoo Music's Reality Rocks sends its condolences to the Johns family and to Michael's extended Idol family.

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