Former Pop Idol star Darius Campbell Danesh has died aged 41. He was found dead in his apartment in Rochester, Minnesota, his family said, and his cause of death remains unknown at the time of writing.
A statement from his family read: “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 statement continues. “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.”
The Scottish singer-songwriter and actor, who was born in Glasgow, rose to fame when he appeared on Popstars in 2001 (under the name Darius Danesh) with a performance of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” that would be an early landmark in the unstoppable rise of TV talent shows. Campbell Danesh then appeared on the first series of Pop Idol in 2002, which was won by Will Young, performing songs including Atomic Kitten’s “Whole Again.” He reached the finals of the competition, signing a deal with producer Steve Lillywhite.
As Darius, his debut single “Colourblind” was released in 2002 and shot straight to No.1 in the UK that August, and was certified silver. He followed it with two more Top 10 singles, “Rushes” and “Incredible (What I Meant To Say),” also both included on his 2002 debut album Dive In, which was certified platinum. Further big hits followed with “Kinda Love“ (2004) and “Live Twice” (2005).
In addition to his pop career, Campbell Danesh was an accomplished theater actor, starring as Billy Flynn in Chicago, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind and Nick Arnstein in Funny Girl.
Campbell Danesh also wrote a book about his time in the music industry titled Sink Or Swim. Published in 2003, it became a Sunday Times bestseller. In 2010, he won an ITV competition called Popstar to Opera Star, in which he was trained to sing opera alongside other musicians including Vanessa White and Danny Jones.
Campbell Danesh also took on on-screen acting roles, playing himself in an episode of Hollyoaks and guest starring in the BBC show Hotel Babylon. In 2011, he married Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge, who starred in productions including Species, Maximum Risk and The Whole Nine Years. After announcing their separation two years after their nuptials, their divorce was finalized in 2018.
Tributes have come in for the late star, including from actor Sanjeev Bhaskar, who remembered his appearance on the comedy series The Kumars at No.42. “Sad news of Darius’ shockingly untimely passing. He was a guest on The Kumars and couldn’t have been a nicer, warmer guest with a great sense of self-deprecation”, he wrote.
UK TV and radio personality Rylan Clark-Neal added: “Proper sad about Darius,” and fellow UK television favorite Lorraine Kelly said: “This is really sad. Thoughts with his family and friends and everyone who loved him. A really good bloke – funny and kind and very talented.”