Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell pays tribute to Darius Danesh Campbell following his death

EXCLUSIVE: ‘He was charismatic and funny’: Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell pays tribute to Darius Danesh Campbell following his death as he reveals he recently reunited with him

  • Darius Danesh Campbell was found dead aged 41 in his Minnesota apartment
  • Simon Cowell has shared a tribute after they met on Pop Idol in 2002
  • The music mogul was a judge while Darius finished in third place on the show
  • Simon revealed that they recently reunited at an X Factor party and taping 

Simon Cowell has shared an emotional tribute to Darius Danesh Campbell after he was found dead aged 41 in his apartment, a family statement confirmed today.

The music mogul, 62, who first crossed paths with the late singer when he finished third place on Pop Idol in 2002 – released a statement honouring the star.

Darius famously turned down a record deal from Simon but the two have remained friendly over the years and recently reunited at an X Factor party and taping.

Goodbye: Simon Cowell has shared an emotional tribute to Darius Danesh Campbell after he was found dead aged 41 in his apartment, a family statement confirmed today

Goodbye: Simon Cowell has shared an emotional tribute to Darius Danesh Campbell after he was found dead aged 41 in his apartment, a family statement confirmed today

Simon told MailOnline: ‘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.’

Darius visited Simon’s home in Malibu recently for the evening to attend the party and judges’ homes taping.

Darius turned down Simon’s offer for a record deal before soaring to success with his No.1 album Dive, as he chose to partner with producer Steve Lillywhite.

Tribute: The music mogul, 62, who first crossed paths with the late singer when finished on third place on Pop Idol in 2002 - released a statement honouring the star (Simon pictured in 2002 on Pop Idol)

Tribute: The music mogul, 62, who first crossed paths with the late singer when finished on third place on Pop Idol in 2002 – released a statement honouring the star (Simon pictured in 2002 on Pop Idol)

Smash hit! 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

Smash hit! 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

Despite finishing in third place on Pop Idol, Simon clearly saw Darius’ star quality and still offered him a deal, but the star claimed it was the ‘obvious choice’ to reject it. 

He previously told, Hello: ‘When Simon Cowell offered me a contract and I turned it down, it seemed like the obvious thing to do. I understand why people thought I was mad to do it, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have a number one with Colourblind.

‘I would just have been doing covers and then nobody would have heard of me ever again.

‘I’m so lucky to be able to do what I love without having to beat to the drum of having someone else telling you what to wear and how to act.

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

Tributes: Fellow Pop Idol alum Gareth Gates - who finished in second place - also shared a tribute to Darius, as he described him as his 'big brother' in a heartfelt passage

Tributes: Fellow Pop Idol alum Gareth Gates – who finished in second place – also shared a tribute to Darius, as he described him as his ‘big brother’ in a heartfelt passage

His family wrote in a tweet announcing the news today: ‘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 and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiners’ office.’ 

Police have said there were ‘no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances’, his relatives also confirmed.

Fellow Pop Idol alum Gareth Gates – who finished in second place – also shared a tribute to Darius, as he described him as his ‘big brother’ in a heartfelt passage.

Gareth said in a statement: ‘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. Goodbye my friend. Forever in my heart. 

RIP: Myleene Klass, who also shot to fame on Popstars with her band Hear'Say, also posted following his tragic passing and honoured him with a throwback image, titled: 'Back where it all began'

RIP: Myleene Klass, who also shot to fame on Popstars with her band Hear’Say, also posted following his tragic passing and honoured him with a throwback image, titled: ‘Back where it all began’

Darius’ Popstars alum Jessica Pietersen and Michelle Heaton – who featured on the show in 2001 – were among also among stars paying tribute.

Singer Jessica, 42, said the singer was a ‘true gentleman’ and will be remembered with fondness by his co-stars.

Myleene Klass, who also shot to fame on Popstars with her band Hear’Say, also posted following his tragic passing and honoured him with a throwback image, titled: ‘Back where it all began.’

TV and radio presenter Nicki Chapman, who was a judge on Popstars while Darius 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 twinkle 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 made his first bid for fame in ITV show Popstars in 2001 with his quirky rendition of Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time. 

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 

 He did not make it into the band but the following year appeared on the first Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young, with Darius finishing third behind another household name in Gareth Gates.

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. 

Gareth Gates today led the tributes to his ‘big brother’ Darius Campbell. The singer, 38, who appeared on Pop Idol with the late singer in 2002, honoured Darius with a heartfelt post after his passing was confirmed by his family in a statement.

Gareth said in a statement: ‘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.’ 

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

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 first shot to fame when he appeared on Popstars in 2001 before going on to defy critics and enjoying a successful and critically acclaimed music and theatre career

He first shot to fame when he appeared on Popstars in 2001 before going on to defy critics and enjoying a successful and critically acclaimed music and theatre career

The Scottish performer went on to forge a successful theatre career, appearing in Chicago as Billy Flynn (above, in 2011) in two runs of the production, as well as Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and more in the West End

The Scottish performer went on to forge a successful theatre career, appearing in Chicago as Billy Flynn (above, in 2011) in two runs of the production, as well as Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and more in the West End

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

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.’

Following the news that the Scottish singer had passed away, a slew of stars took to social media to offer their sympathies, including Lorraine Kelly, Adele Roberts and Rylan. 

His Popstars alumni Jessica Pietersen and Michelle Heaton – who featured on the show in 2001 – were also among those stars paying tribute following the tragic news.

Singer Myleen Klass, who also shot to fame on Popstars with her band Hear’Say, posted following his tragic passing and honoured him with a throwback image, titled: ‘Back where it all began.’ 

Darius first shot to fame when he appeared on Popstars in 2001 before going on to defy critics and enjoy a successful music and theatre career.

In a performance regarded by most as cringey when it aired at the time, Darius garnered attention for his cover of Britney Spears’s Hit Me Baby One More Time sporting his memorable ponytail and goatee on the ITV talent show.

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.

As the accolades began pouring in for the acclaimed singer and songwriter’s career, his first solo album Dive In went platinum, while his first West End stage appearance came as Billy Flynn in the iconic Chicago.

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. He previously told the Scottish Herald: ‘That relationship was certainly not without its ups and downs. Over the course of 12 years, we broke up many times and had a period of six months apart

‘It was often a long-distance relationship for half of it. That in itself was an amazing experience, but a painful one. When you love someone you want to be with them.’ 

And 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 drinking from the River Thames while promoting water filters for the Frech2o safe drinking charity. 

After collapsing with bacterial meningitis and severe brain swelling the Glaswegian was placed in a coma, waking to find his mother Avril Danesh – herself undergoing chemo and radiotherapy for breast cancer – in tears at his bedside. 

Following his third-placed finish in Pop Idol, 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.

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