It’s no secret to fans of ABC’s “American Idol” that season 18 runner-up and season 19 comeback contestant Arthur Gunn skipped out on his season 19 finale duet with Sheryl Crow though he’d been scheduled to perform.
At first, the story seemed simple: Gunn didn’t make it to the performance or backed out ahead of the show.
However, according to a report by season 14 runner-up Clark Beckham, Gunn “had quite the reputation of being difficult to work with” and was actually at the show but refused to come out of his trailer in order to perform. Fortunately, fellow contestant Graham DeFranco, who was eliminated in the top 16, was ready to step in.
According to Beckham, who said he spoke with DeFranco himself about the incident, this meant DeFranco did not have time for a wardrobe change and had to jump on stage with fewer than five minutes to get ready. Just 10 seconds before the performance there were people still trying to get his phone and wallet out of his pocket so his jeans weren’t bulging on national TV, Beckham reported.
Beckham Says Producers Thought Gunn Could Back Out
According to Beckham’s report, titled “The Most Epic Idol Story of All Time,” when he spoke with DeFranco, he learned that producers had anticipated for days that Gunn might not perform. Beckham said DeFranco was approached days prior to the finale with the idea that he might have to step in, but DeFranco didn’t hear back until five minutes before his performance, when a producer “grabs Graham and says, ‘I need you.'”
He said DeFranco first thought he was going to be interviewed but quickly learned he was going on stage to join Crow in a duet of her 1996 hit “If It Makes You Happy.”
DeFranco told Beckham that everyone was laughing, including the judges, producers and contestants, while he stood on stage with just 10 seconds to go before the performance.
“It’s absolute chaos, live television at its finest,” Beckham said. “What an amazing moment. What a way to freakin’ step up to the plate and nail it, save the day.”
The Cast Didn’t Know Gunn Wouldn’t Show Up
Following the episode, the judges were asked why Gunn wasn’t there and why DeFranco stepped up to take his spot, and they gave vague replies, according to USA Today.
Gunn Addressed His Absence on Instagram
In an Instagram post following the Idol finale, Gunn thanked “American Idol” and explained he backed out for “moral” reasons.
“Well, let’s just say I missed my opportunity to sing with legendary @sherylcrow,” he started. “What happened is not much to discuss at this point. I would like to make it up and invite @sherylcrow to perform couple of songs on the July 30th at @thecotillion. It was last minute decision but I couldn’t help but say no cause of some personal morals and values due to unpleasant environmental experiences.”
He added, “It’s not necessary to state it, it is what it is, so I felt like I had to move on, it’s not the show @americanidol to blame, they were there long before nor anyone related to the show.”
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