Former Pop Idol contestant Darius found dead aged 41

Entertainment

Former Pop Idol contestant and theatre star Darius Campbell Danesh has died at the age of 41, his family has announced.

The singer was found dead in his US apartment in Minnesota on 11 August, but his cause of death is not yet known.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh,” a statement issued by his family read.

“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.”

Born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and Iranian father, Mr Campbell Danesh was the eldest of three boys and attended Bearsden Primary School before studying English literature and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.

He made his first bid for fame in the ITV show Popstars in 2001, where he became known for his audition performance of Britney’s Baby One More Time, and later appeared on the first Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young.

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His debut single, Colourblind, was released in July 2002 and went straight to the number one spot in the charts.

The Scottish singer-songwriter went on to have a successful career, appearing in the West End shows such as Chicago, in which he played Billy Flynn, Guys And Dolls and Gone With The Wind.

Speaking about his role as Flynn, the actor had previously said he based his portrayal of the character on his old mentor and Pop Idol judge, Simon Cowell.

Mr Campbell Danesh starred opposite Ugly Betty star America Ferrera in the musical set in prohibition-era Chicago, and said: “He’s the consummate businessman and a wonderful guy and there’s a lot of Simon Cowell in Billy Flynn in terms of the way he approaches things and I recognise that in terms of the character.”

Darius Campbell Danesh
Image:
Darius Campbell Danesh. Pic: James Gourley/Shutterstock

He credited Mr Cowell with persuading him to take on the role in the first place, saying he was “incredibly grateful” for his the opportunities he had been given and “to be able to call Simon Cowell a friend”.

After coming third in Pop Idol, he won the first series of ITV’s Popstar To Operastar contest in 2010, beating Bernie Nolan of the Nolan Sisters in a close final.

A few months after his win, which featured Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and Mexican-born tenor Rolando Villazon as judges, he landed his first major opera role in the production of Carmen at London’s O2 Arena, playing the principal role of toreador Escamillo.

In the same year, Mr Campbell Danesh spoke to Hello! magazine about a car crash in which he broke his neck.

He had been a passenger in a Porsche when it crashed into a wall at 70mph in Spain after skidding on oil.

In 2011, he married Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge, known for her role in the sci-fi film Species, in Santa Barbara, California.

However, the couple were divorced a few years later.

After both of his parents were diagnosed with cancer and recovered, he became a supporter of several charities, including Cancer Research UK.

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