Fans and celebrities are still reeling after the mysterious death of Darius Campbell Danesh, the beloved singer and actor whose career took off in 2001, after he placed third on the first season of “Pop Idol” in the United Kingdom. Producers reimagined and transformed that show into “American Idol” the following year, with judge Simon Cowell going from London to Los Angeles to launch the U.S. production.
Despite placing third, Danesh quickly shot to fame with multiple hit records and starring in major musical theater productions in the U.K. According to Yahoo News, Danesh began dating actress Natasha Henstridge in 2004, moved to the U.S., and the couple married in 2011. They separated two years later but tried to reconcile in 2016, only to finalize their divorce in 2018.
In a since-deleted Instagram post featuring a photo of her with Danesh and another of them with her sons from a previous marriage, Henstridge wrote, “There are no words Darius… only Love Love Love. Forever Janam.”
Here’s the latest on the singer’s death and the celebrity tributes pouring in…
Mystery Surrounds Entertainer’s Death & Why He Was in Rochester
According to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, the 41-year-old was found unresponsive in his bed at a luxury apartment located across from the Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Mayo Clinic is consistently ranked the No. 1 hospital in the world, frequently attracting high-profile patients. It has not been confirmed that Danesh was a patient at Mayo, but The Berkman, the apartment complex where he was staying, is known for providing short-term luxury suites for people who need easy access to Mayo’s various medical buildings.
A statement released on August 16 by Danesh’s family did not provide any insight into why the performer, who had been looking forward to a “Pop Idol” TV reunion in England this fall, was staying in Rochester, a small city located 87 miles south of Minneapolis. According to Hello Magazine, the family said local police had told them there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. Meanwhile, The Daily Record reported that the family may need to wait 8 weeks to receive toxicology reports.
Though it’s not yet clear why, it is likely Danesh had been in Rochester for at least a few weeks because locals spotted his best friend, fellow Scottish actor Gerard Butler, in town multiple times. In July, radio station KROC reported multiple sightings of the star, posting photos of him at a weekly food and music festival held over the lunch hour downtown on Thursdays. He was also seen at two local bars. A week later, radio station Y.105FM reported that he was seen at the Olmstead County Fair and took photos with two local sheriff’s deputies.
However, even Butler seems surprised by his buddy’s passing. On August 18, he posted a photo on Instagram of them together, along with a lengthy tribute to his longtime friend.
“I am devastated by the sudden passing of my dear friend Darius, a true brother in arms,” he wrote, and then extended his condolences to Danesh’s parents and brothers.
He continued, “To those lucky enough to have met Darius for more than a few minutes, they were deeply moved by his infectious laugh and barely containable zest for life. He was always armed with a smile, a booming voice, and a genuinely warm embrace that few could resist-nor would they want to!!! He was an incredible talent, a singer whose voice touched your soul and an actor with great presence. But, most importantly, he had the heart of a lion. It was bigger and brighter than the sun and an energy so contagious he could light up a room in seconds.”
Celebrities, Fans Expressing Shock & Sadness
Butler may have been the celebrity closest to Danesh, but many others have expressed their shock over his passing and memories of time spent with him.
On August 17, actress Rosario Dawson posted a sweet Instagram photo of herself getting playful kisses on both cheeks by Butler and Danesh, writing, “Beloved Darius, you have left us reeling in a state of shock and sadness that are as palpable as your hugs and laughter were. You were one of the greats.”
Though Danesh came in third on the inaugural season of “Pop Idol,” judge Simon Cowell — who would soon head to the U.S. to launch “American Idol,” still offered the singer record deal. But Danesh famously turned him down, according to the BBC, choosing instead to work with U2 and Rolling Stones producer Steve Lillywhite, earning multiple top 10 hits in the U.K. Nevertheless, Cowell issued a gracious statement after news of Danesh’s passing.
“I first saw Darius on television over 20 years ago and I got to know him really well,” said Cowell. “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.”
Chris Martin and his band, Coldplay, acknowledged Danesh’s passing during their August 17 concert in London.
“We are going to send love from Wembley out to the world,” the singer told the packed stadium. “We are going to send to Darius’ family – our old friend Darius – and to Ukraine,” according to the Daily Mail.
Rosie Nixon, editor-in-chief of Great Britain’s Hello Magazine, wrote in a personal post, “Oh Darius, such a sweet soul. Tragic news. I’ll remember his kind, soft Scottish voice when he’d call with an idea, it was generally always him phoning directly rather than a manager. He once invited the whole Hello! team on a night out to see his latest show; he always appreciated the support and let us know. He was a sweetheart, a rare gem.”