Pop Idol star Darius Danesh found dead in apartment aged 41

16 August 2022, 16:36 | Updated: 16 August 2022, 20:13

Darius Danesh has died aged 41
Darius Danesh has died aged 41. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Former Pop Idol contestant and theatre star Darius Campbell Danesh has been found dead in his US apartment room at the age of 41, his family announced.

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The singer and actor was found in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11 - although the cause of death remains unknown.

A statement said: "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."

Danesh appeared in the first series of Pop Idol
Danesh appeared in the first series of Pop Idol. Picture: Alamy

The Scottish singer-songwriter and actor - who was known as Darius Danesh when he made his first bid for fame in Popstars in 2001 - also appeared on the first Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young.

He went on to forge a successful stage career, appearing in Chicago as Billy Flynn in two runs of the production, as well as Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and more in the West End.

He starred opposite Ugly Betty star America Ferrera in Chicago, crediting Simon Cowell for persuading him to take on the role.

Danesh was born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and Iranian father.

Although he found fame as Darius Danesh, he later changed his name to incorporate his mother Avril's maiden name, Campbell, after an emotional visit to his grandfather in a Paisley nursing home made him reflect on his Scottish heritage.

He lived in the US and found love with Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge, whose films include sci-fi hit Species.

The couple married in 2011 at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, but were divorced a few years later.

Danesh starred in Gone with the Wind in the West End as well as Chicago
Danesh starred in Gone with the Wind in the West End as well as Chicago. Picture: Getty

After coming third in Pop Idol, in 2010, Danesh went on to win the first series of Popstar To Operastar contest, beating Bernie Nolan of the Nolan Sisters in a close final.

A few months after his win on the opera show, which featured Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and Mexican-born tenor Rolando Villazon as judges, he landed his first major opera role as he was cast in a new production of Carmen at London's O2 Arena.

He took on the principal role of toreador Escamillo in the production, for a one-off performance which marked the first ever opera at the venue at the time.

Darius Danesh performing after his stint on reality TV
Darius Danesh performing after his stint on reality TV. Picture: Alamy

Tributes have since poured in for the star, with Simon Cowell remembering Danesh as "charismatic, funny and just a great person to be with".

In a statement, the former Pop Idol judge said: "I first saw Darius on television over 20 years ago and I got to know him really well.

"He was charismatic, funny and just a great person to be with.

"His passing, for someone so young, is an absolute tragedy and my heart goes out to his family and friends."

Gareth Gates said: "I can't quite believe the news of my dear friend Darius passing. I'm heartbroken.

"Darius took me under his wing during our time in Pop Idol, like a big brother; always looking out for me and for that I thank you my friend.

"I will miss our chats. He was one of the most beautiful, intelligent and gentle souls I was lucky enough to know, a soul that lit up every room.

"Good bye my friend. Forever in my heart x"

West End actress and singer Carrie Hope Fletcher tweeted "This is such sad news" alongside a broken heart emoji.

English singer and member of pop group Liberty X Michelle Heaton has paid tribute to Danesh after it was announced he has died aged 41.

The 43-year-old, tweeted: "So sad ... thoughts with Darius family right now x always our Britney" followed by a red heart and a rainbow emoji.

Heaton found fame on singing competition show Popstars, on which Danesh also starred.

Her fellow member, Jessica Taylor, tweeted: "I'm so sad. Darius was only 41. He was an absolute gentleman & I know all of us who did Popstars with him will remember him with huge fondness.

"He had a way of bringing us all together & had such a natural warmth about him. Rest in peace lovely man."

TV and radio presenter Nicki Chapman has paid tribute to "true gent" Darius Campbell Danesh following his death.

Chapman, 55, who was a judge on Popstars while Campbell Danesh was a contestant on the show in 2001, tweeted: "There will only ever be one Darius Campbell Danesh.

"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."

Chapman was later a judge on music competition series Pop Idol, on which Campbell Danesh also starred.

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