Darius Campbell Danesh, the “Pop Idol” runner up and West End Star has died, the BBC reports. He was 41.
The singer, who was Scottish, was reportedly found dead in an apartment in Rochester, Minnesota on Thursday, Aug. 11. A spokesperson for the Rochester police department told Variety his death is currently the subject of “an open investigation.”
The spokesperson would not comment on whether there were any suspicious circumstances.
Danesh was catapulted into the public eye in 2001 with his rendition of Britney Spears chart-topper “Hit Me Baby One More Time” on one of the U.K.’s early naughties singing competition shows “Pop Stars.” The following year he also appeared on the first season of British “Americon Idol” prototype “Pop Idol,” finishing third behind Will Young and Gareth Gates.
Danesh went onto release a single, “Colourblind,” which reached the number one spot in the U.K. charts, while a follow-up album, “Dive In,” was a Top 10 hit.
He subsequently went on to appear in West End shows including “Chicago,” in which he appeared alongside America Ferrera, “Funny Girl,” alongside Sheridan Smith, and “Guys and Dolls.”
Danesh also produced a number of films, including a documentary titled “Fountain of Youth” and a horror feature, “House Red,” starring his ex-wife Natasha Henstridge and model-turned-actor Clara Paget.
The BBC quoted a statement from Danesh’s family, which read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh. 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.”
“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.”
ITV, the network which broadcast both “Popstars” and “Pop Idol,” also released a statement, saying: “Darius was a much loved and memorable part of both the ‘Popstars’ and ‘Pop Idol’ series, and our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
British television stars have also paid tribute to the singer. Host Rylan Clark-Neal wrote on social media “Proper sad about Darius” while daytime presenter Lorraine Kelly tweeted: “This is really sad. Thoughts with his family and friends and everyone who loved him. A really good bloke – funny and kind and very talented.”
Music exec turned radio host Nicki Chapman, who was a judge on both “Popstars” and “Pop Idol,” also added her condolences on Twitter. “There will only ever be one Darius Campbell Danesh,” she wrote. “A true gent with a kind soul & mischievous tinkle in his eye. From that eventful first audition on ‘Popstars’ to him kindly inviting me to see him perform on the West End stage. Thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Danesh’s friend Gerard Butler also penned a moving tribute on Instagram. “I am devastated by the sudden passing of my dear friend Darius, a true brother in arms,” Butler wrote alongside a picture of himself with Danesh. “To those lucky enough to have met Darius for more than a few minutes, they were deeply moved by his infectious laugh and barely containable zest for life. He was always armed with a smile, a booming voice, and a genuinely warm embrace that few could resist-nor would they want to!!! He was an incredible talent, a singer whose voice touched your soul and an actor with great presence. But, most importantly, he had the heart of a lion. It was bigger and brighter than the sun and an energy so contagious he could light up a room in seconds.”