American Idol just lost one of its own. Season 7 alum Michael Johns has died at the age of 35.
Both the Atlanta Journal Consitution and Johns’ fansite have confirmed the shocking and tragic news. Fansite administrator Sedz tweeted, “It is with a heavyy heart and inconsolable sadness that we confirm the passing of our friend Michael Johns. No other details will b avail at this time. Please respect the privacy of Mike’s family and friends as we know u will.”
While an official cause of death is not known at this time, sources have told The Hollywood Reporter that the singer died from a blood clot in his ankle. But AJC‘s Rodney Ho has heard that “The family is not in a position yet to provide a statement.”
UPDATE (6:20pm): A close friend, Torrey Gimbill, told E! News, “My mom took him into the emergency room [Thursday]. He had complained about his leg hurting him; he thought it might be a blood clot because it had bruised pretty badly and he never hurt his leg.”
American Idol, FOX, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment have released a join statement: “Michael Johns was an incredible talent and we are deepy saddened by the news of his passing. He was a part of our American Idol family and he will he truly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Many alumni, judges, executive producers and others associated with Idol have tweeted their condolences:
Bo Bice: “My friend @michael_johns passed yesterday. Please keep his family in your prayers. He was a wonderful, kind spirit that brought joy to all.”
Anthony Fedorov: “R.I.P. @Michael_Johns. You’ll be missed my friend. It’s not fair! Life is not fair. #GoneWayTooSoon”
Taylor Hicks: “@michael_johns you will be missed my friend. RIP”
Jordin Sparks: “My heart is so heavy today. @michael_johns, you were such a bright light & always made me smile. Rest in His arms. Im going to miss you.”
Blake Lewis: “He was the nicest, most talented and charming bloke you’d ever meet. He was just over for the 4th of July and now his soul is singing with the [angels]. It so surreal to lose a friend and we never know when it will be our last day on this planet.”
Melinda Doolittle: “I can’t express how sad I am right now. Michael Johns, rest in sweet peace, my friend. You will be greatly missed.”
Chris Richardson: “My heart hurts hearing about the passing of my good friend Michael Johns … It’s just not real to me yet. I’m gonna miss u bro. #GodSpeed”
Danny Gokey: “Just heard the devastating news of the loss of former A.I. Alum Michael Johns. So so sad. Please keep his family in your thoughts & prayers.”
Scott MacIntyre: “So sad and shocked by the passing of my friend and fellow Idol alum @Michael_Johns. I will treasure all the good times we had together.”
Colton Dixon: “Sad to hear about Michael johns. Big fan when he was on idol. #rip”
Katie Stevens: “Devastated to hear about the passing of my dear friend and fellow Idol Michael Johns. Thank you for sharing your incredible talent with the world. I was blessed to know you and your incredible talent. Thank you for believing in my always, even when i didn’t believe in myself. You will be truly missed.”
Tim Urban: “Michael Johns was that big brother type who would give you a hard time but you knew he wanted you [to] do your absolute best every time. He was always encouraging. Doesn’t seem real that he’s gone.”
Karen Rodriguez: “I’m so devastated over the news of @michael_johns’ passing. I’m so fortunate to have known him & so glad to have shared some great moments.”
Caleb Johnson: “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Michael Johns. Tonight’s show is dedicated in your honor.”
Simon Cowell: I just heard the very sad news that Michael Johns has passed away. A truly great guy. Rest in peace Michael.”
Randy Jackson: “So Sad. Too soon. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. RIP Michael Johns.”
Paula Abdul: “Heartfelt condolences to the family of @michael_johns from @AmericanIdol season 7. He will be missed. #RIPMichaelJohns”
Nigel Lythgoe (Former Executive Producer): “God Bless you Michael.”
Michael Orland (Musical Director): I’m very sad about my pal Michael Johns — he was a talented guy and I loved him and his talent very much.”
Michael Johns, originally from Australia, competed during season 7 of American Idol in 2008, ultimately finishing in eighth place. The winner that year was David Cook.
Johns auditioned for Idol by singing Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”:
Some of his other performances during his run include Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Queen’s “We Will Rock You”/”We Are the Champions” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” You can watch his rendition of the Aerosmith classic below:
Following Idol, he took part in the American Idol LIVE! Tour, recorded music for a Shaun White documentary, released a Christmas song and released both a full-length album and an EP. The post-Idol album, called Hold Back My Heart, has sold 20,000 copies.
His final music-related tweet, from July 10, mentioned that he was working on a new song: “Headed to the studio to work on new song called ‘Reckless’ been waiting a long time for this one.”
Michael Johns is survived by his wife Stacey, whom he married in 2007 right before competing on Idol.
(Image courtesy of WENN)