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.
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.”
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
God Bless you Michael.— Nigel Lythgoe (@dizzyfeet) August 2, 2014
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.
In one of his final tweets, Johns expressed excitement over working on new music in the studio.
Headed to the studio to work on new song called 'Reckless' been waiting a long time for this one— Michael Johns (@michael_johns) July 10, 2014
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.
My heart is so heavy today. @michael_johns, you were such a bright light & always made me smile. Rest in His arms. Im going to miss you. :(— Jordin Sparks (@JordinSparks) August 2, 2014
Oh my gosh!! I just heard that @michael_johns passed away!!! What!!!?? This is SO SAD!!!— Chris Daughtry (@CHRIS_Daughtry) August 2, 2014
I can't express how sad I am right now. Michael Johns, rest in sweet peace, my friend. You will be… http://t.co/PfVhY9hie9— Melinda Doolittle (@mdoolittle) August 2, 2014
I'm very sad about my pal Michael Johns - he was a talented guy and I loved him and his talent very much. We... http://t.co/xmOHQ53poh— Michael Orland (@MichaelOrland) August 2, 2014
I'm still at a loss. I lost a great friend and the world lost a true talent. Miss you already brother. @michael_johns— Brandon Rogers (@brandonrogersLA) August 2, 2014
Devastated to hear about the passing of my dear friend and fellow Idol Michael Johns.. Thank you for… http://t.co/rLUK7cFHvx— Katie Stevens (@thekatiestevens) August 2, 2014
My friend @michael_johns passed yesterday. Please keep his family in your prayers. He was a wonderful, kind spirit that brought joy to all.— Bo Bice (@OfficialBoBice) August 2, 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
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
Yesterday I found out my good friend and fellow idol Michael Johns passed away. He was the nicest, most talented... http://t.co/efUR9sHNlc— Blake Lewis (@BlakeLewis) August 2, 2014
Yahoo Music's Reality Rocks sends its condolences to the Johns family and to Michael's extended Idol family.