Darius has passed away: Pop Idol star is found dead in his US apartment aged 41

Pop Idol’s Darius dies aged 41: Scottish singer who leapt to fame with his Britney Spears rendition in 2001 is found dead in his US apartment

  • Singer found dead in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11 – although cause of his death remains unknown
  • Darius shot to fame in 2001 with his quirky rendition of Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time on Popstars
  • Didn’t make it into the band but following year he finished third on Pop Idol and a year later topped charts
  • Later moved into theatre roles, appearing in West End shows like Chicago, Guys and Dolls and Funny Girl 
  • He was married to actress Natasha Henstridge from 2011-2018, whose films include sci-fi hit Species

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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 today.

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

Danesh made his first bid for fame in ITV show Popstars in 2001 with his quirky rendition of Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time.  

He did not make it into the band but the following year appeared on the first Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young. 

The Scottish performer went on to forge a successful theatre 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 lived in the US and was in a relationship 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 had since divorced. 

Responding the news of his death, actress Carrie Hope Fletcher tweeted today: ‘This is such sad news’ and shared a broken heart emoji. 

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Darius Campbell Danesh (left) enjoying a walk with his friend, the actor Gerard Butler, in Malibu on June 11 this year. This is the last picture of the star in public

Darius Campbell Danesh (left) enjoying a walk with his friend, the actor Gerard Butler, in Malibu on June 11 this year. This is the last picture of the star in public 

Danesh - whose death was announced today - was married to actress Natasha Henstridge from 2011 to 2018

Danesh – whose death was announced today – was married to actress Natasha Henstridge from 2011 to 2018

Danesh with his friend, the Australian actress Rebel Wilson  (middle) during a holiday in Portofino, Italy in 2019

Danesh with his friend, the Australian actress Rebel Wilson  (middle) during a holiday in Portofino, Italy in 2019

The singer and theatre actor with Natasha Henstridge at the 19th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar viewing party at the Pacific Design Center on February 27, 2011 in West Hollywood

The singer and theatre actor with Natasha Henstridge at the 19th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Oscar viewing party at the Pacific Design Center on February 27, 2011 in West Hollywood

A family 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.’

After Pop Idol in 2002, Danesh turned down Simon Cowell’s offer of a record deal and signed with producer Steve Lillywhite, whose credits include U2 and the Rolling Stones.

His debut single, Colourblind, was released in July 2002 and went straight to number one, marking the start of a run of top 10 releases.

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.

In 2010, he spoke to Hello! magazine about a car crash in which he broke his neck.

The singer had been a passenger in a Porsche when it hit a wall at 70mph after skidding on oil during a sunshine break in Spain.

Darius was left seriously ill in 2017 when he collapsed and went into a near-fatal coma after promoting water filters for the Frech2o safe drinking charity. 

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

A few months after his win on the ITV 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.

After Pop Idol, Danesh turned down Simon Cowell's offer of a record deal and signed with producer Steve Lillywhite, whose credits include U2 and the Rolling Stones

 After Pop Idol, Danesh turned down Simon Cowell’s offer of a record deal and signed with producer Steve Lillywhite, whose credits include U2 and the Rolling Stones

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.

In 2011, speaking about reprising the role of Chicago’s scheming lawyer Flynn, he said he had based his portrayal of the character on his old mentor and Pop Idol judge, Simon Cowell.

Campbell 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.”

He credited Cowell with persuading him to take on the role in Chicago in the first place.

He said: “I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences I’ve had and all the opportunities that it opened up and to be able to call Simon Cowell a friend and to be able to have dinner with him.”

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

The eldest of three boys, he attended Bearsden Primary School before studying English literature and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.

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 became a supporter of cancer charities including Cancer Research UK after both his parents were diagnosed with cancer and recovered.

He also made a foray into Hollywood as a co-executive producer on the horror film Imperium starring Daniel Radcliffe in 2016. 

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

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

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