Michael Johns, a former contestant on American Idol who made it to the final rounds in season seven, died on Friday at the age of 35. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cause was believed to be a blood clot in the singer’s ankle.
“Michael Johns was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of his passing,” read a statement on American Idol‘s official Facebook page. “He was a part of our American Idol family and he will be truly missed. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Johns joined American Idol in 2008, auditioning with Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” After closing out his run on the show’s seventh season with a cover of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” he ultimately came in eighth place while David Cook emerged as the winner.
Born in Perth, Australia, Johns originally came to the United States on a tennis scholarship, but quickly became involved in Atlanta’s music scene. Even before appearing on American Idol, he was signed to Maverick and recorded an album for them under the name Michael Lee, though the label collapsed before the album was released. Following his success on Idol, he released a full-length album in 2009, Hold Back My Heart. In 2012, he followed that up with an EP titled Love and Sex.
“I just heard the very sad news that Michael Johns has passed away,” former American Idol judge Simon Cowell tweeted on Saturday evening. “A truly great guy. Rest in peace Michael.”