Reality TV stalwart Simon Cowell is mourning the loss of “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent” contestant Nolan Neal, who died suddenly on July 19 in Nashville, Tennessee, which was first reported by TMZ.
Here is what the singing competition show judge said about Neal’s untimely death:
Simon Cowell Said ‘You’re Never Prepared’ For Something Like This
Speaking to People at a taping of “America’s Got Talent,” Cowell spoke at length about Neal, who was a contestant on season 11 of “The Voice” and season 15 of “America’s Got Talent.” Cowell said that every time someone is gone too soon, “it’s horrible” and “hard.”
“Unfortunately, it happens too much over the years. I was thinking about this the other day. People [who] passed too soon. Every time it happens, because you’ve gotten to know them, it’s horrible,” said Cowell, adding, “At that moment, it’s like, ‘What can I say?’ The unfortunate thing is it’s happened too many times and every time it happens, it’s hard.”
He also mentioned the death of “America’s Got Talent” contestant Nightbirde, who died in February 2022 after a battle with cancer, according to TMZ.
Of that death and Neal’s, Cowell said, “After the last three years, it’s been tough. And then, you think everything’s okay and then something hits you like a story like that and it’s hard. But all I can say is, what I’ve learned from this, is that you just take every day as it is and you try and stay positive, you try and stay healthy. That’s it. I mean, I was talking about this to someone earlier on, you’re never prepared for these days.”
Neal’s Children Set Up a GoFundMe Because He Didn’t Have Life Insurance or Savings
Following Neal’s death, his daughter Caylin Cate set up a GoFundMe to help pay for some of the funeral expenses and so that Neal’s son could fly in to attend the service.
“The expenses that come from this are extensive as we are trying to prepare for his funeral and fly in his son & loved ones. If you want to help in anyway, you can donate here. Anything is appreciated and I am so grateful for the community rallying behind us,” wrote Cate on the GoFundMe page.
As of this writing, the GoFundMe has raised over $26,000, with one donor contributing $10,000.
Neal’s cause of death has not been released, but the singer was open about his struggles with substance abuse and addiction. When TMZ first reported the news of Neal’s death, the outlet said that officers told them they found a guitar pick that appeared to have a powdery residue on it and a note addressing his substance abuse issues.
During his time on “America’s Got Talent,” Neal told local Tennessee NBC affiliate WBIR that he went to rehab, got clean but then relapsed after his time on “The Voice.”
“I remember I got clean in 2010; May 15, went to rehab. Stayed clean,” Neal said. “I joined the rock band Hinder, they were all about drinking and partying. This is not their fault. I had decided I wanted to drink like a normal person. I remember trying to be normal and fitting in. I remember going to a bar and ordering a drink. I tried to hide it. I remember pretending to be normal. I was just lying to myself telling myself that I could control it.”
On Neal’s Patreon bio, he talks about how he was “10 years free from the needle since May 15, 2010,” and 14 months “clean and sober from everything since May 16, 2019.” He also wrote that he was hoping to get to 888 patrons because that was his “spirit number” so that he could work on his music full time and help “reach those in need of a little light in their lives! Together we can outshine the darkness!”
“The Voice” returns in the fall of 2022 for its 22nd season on NBC.