Michael Johns, the good-looking, Aussie-accented singer who wowed American audiences during Season 7 of American Idol, has died at age 35, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The cause of death is believed to be a blood clot originating in the singer’s ankle.
Johns first arrived in the U.S. to attend college on a tennis scholarship, but used the opportunity to pursue music. By the time he auditioned for AI at age 29, Johns’ soulful voice had already landed him contracts with two major labels (Maverick and Columbia), and he even had a record in the can for Maverick. In both cases, business decisions caused Johns to be dropped (Maverick folded, and Columbia downsized).
American Idol released this official statement on its Facebook page:
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.
While the singer finished in a disappointing eighth place on American Idol, his music career remained quite active afterward. Johns went on to release a full length album, Hold Back My Heart, in 2009, followed by an EP, Love and Sex in 2012.
Blood clots are easily treatable in most cases, but when a clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
Many celebrities, including many associated with AI, have issued statements and Tweets praising the singer and lamenting his passing:
So Sad. Too soon. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. RIP Michael Johns
— Randy Jackson (@YO_RANDYJACKSON) August 3, 2014
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
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
I'm heartbroken over the loss of @michael_johns.His enormous talent, gigantic heart & infectious personality will live in my heart forever.
— The Real Paula Abdul (@PaulaAbdul) August 3, 2014
Among other tributes, The Hollywood Reporter relays this statement from Season 7 winner David Cook:
“Mike was one of the first people I bonded with when I got to Hollywood week, and I can honestly say that the depth and pressure associated with the first few weeks of the Idol experience would’ve eaten me alive, had it not been for Mike... To say I’m shocked and saddened is a gross understatement. I’m completely gutted for his family, including his wife, Stacey. I hope they can find at least some small amount of solace in the fact that he made mine and many others’ lives so much better by having known him.”
RIP, Michael Johns, a talent gone far too soon.