Darius Campbell Danesh, who finished third on Pop Idol behind Will Young and Gareth Gates, appeared to have the musical world at his feet.
When he turned down a lucrative record contract from the program’s creator Simon Cowell, industry experts were shocked.
Despite being dropped from the label and his father’s disapproval, the Scotsman went on to have five No. 1 songs.
He topped it off with his No. 1 hit Colourblind, launched a highly successful second career as a West End actor and entertainer, and had his own weekly television show on the BBC called John Bishop: The Interviews.
He spent the next several months dividing his time between Scotland and the United States, where he was discovered dead in his Minneapolis home on August 11.
Darius Danesh was born in Glasgow, Scotland on August 19th, 1980 to an Iranian father and Scottish mother.
He was raised in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire with two brothers who were younger than him.
He studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh before beginning his pop career after finishing school at Bearsden Primary and Glasgow Academy.
Darius first became well known when he took part in the ITV program Popstars in 2001.
He became notorious for his audition appearance, which included a black turtleneck, his hair slicked back in a ponytail, and a goatee.
His atypical performance of Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time and exaggerated facial expressions led the judges to give him a “no”.
Songwriter Paul Adam told Nicki Chapman that: “He has talent, but I’m not sure if he’s the right person to fit into a five-piece band or even a 100-piece band.”
In 2000, Darius cut his ponytail and returned to the TV screens to finish third on the first series of Pop Idol.
Will Young won the competition with Gareth Gates coming second.
In the semi-finals, 6 million individuals voted, with Gates obtaining 39.8% of the votes, Young getting 39.3%, and Darius earning 20.9% of the votes.
The comeback of the former Popstars competitor was terminated as a consequence.
Darius’ cover of It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones, as well as his covers of Atomic Kitten’s Whole Again, were two of his most well-known performances.
Although he landed in third place, music producer and reality show host Simon Cowell offered him a record deal.
To the dismay of many of his fans, Darius rejected an offer and instead chose to work with Steve Lillywhite, a well-known producer who has worked with U2 and the Rolling Stones.
His very first single, Colourblind, was internationally released in July 2002 and became an immediate number one hit.
The song was used on the album Dive In, which also reached the UK top 10.
From there, he went on to have four more UK top 10 singles in the next three years: Rushes, Incredible (What I Meants To Say), Kinda Love, and Live Twice.
In 2014, Darius spoke to Hello magazine about his decision not to hook up with Cowell, saying that it was the “obvious thing to do” and that it had led to his success in the music industry.
“When Simon Cowell offered me a contract and I turned it down, it seemed like the obvious thing to do,” he stated.
“I understand why people thought I was mad to do it, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have a number one with Colourblind.”
“I would just have been doing covers and then nobody would have heard of me ever again.”
Later in his life, he had a successful theatre career, including roles in West End shows such as Guys and Dolls, Gone With the Wind, and Funny Girl.
He also played Billy Flynn in Chicago, across from Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera.
The actor said that he based his performance as Flynn on his former mentor and Pop Idol judge.
“He’s the consummate businessman and a wonderful guy and there’s a lot of Simon Cowell in Billy Flynn in terms of the way he approaches things and I recognize that in terms of the character,” he stated.
He said that Cowell was the one who persuaded him to take on the role and he was “incredibly grateful” for all of the opportunities he has had and “to be able to call Simon Cowell a friend”.
Darius won the first season of ITV’s Popstar To Operastar in 2010, narrowly defeating Bernie Nolan of the Nolan Sisters.
He debuted on the show, singing with tenor Rolando Villazón on The Impossible Dream, in which he subsequently landed his first big opera part in.
Darius was the first-ever person to perform an opera at London’s O2 Arena, playing Escamillo the bullfighter in Carmen.
The two were publicly confronted about their love for one another on the show, where Opera singer Katherine Jenkins educated him. “I have wonderful memories of coaching him,” she added in a post on Instagram.
He also made a brief foray into Hollywood as a co-executive producer on the 2016 horror movie Imperium, in which Daniel Radcliffe starred.
In 2015, Darius was admitted to the hospital after drinking water from the River Thames.
The singer, who was demonstrating a water filter for charity, drew attention to the product.
Unknowingly using a prototype bottle top filter from Fresh2o, he made himself sick and later fell into a coma due to his brain swelling up.
He said to the Sunday Post: “In order to raise funds to get the water filters to Africa, we did a demonstration video down at the Thames next to a sewage outlet.
“The filters remove 99.99% of all known water-borne pathogens, bacteria and viruses.”
“So I drank the water for the video and raised the funds but when I went to Glasgow to see my mum for her birthday I collapsed.”
Darius said that, if not for his father’s intervention, he would have lost his life.
He took him to the hospital quickly after he picked up an inflammatory virus and was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
Avril, his mother who was battling breast cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, stayed by his bedside after he fell unconscious.
He woke up feeling “upside down and wrong” because she was unwell.
Darius’s illness was determined to be caused by his charity’s water filters, according to doctors.
“I suddenly got a shock, worrying that the water filters didn’t work and that they had been sent off and that other people could have died because of this,” he stated.
“But other people who drank the water didn’t get sick and it was a huge relief when we found out that the water filter I used was a display model without a filter.”
Darius’ life took a turn for the worse in 2010 when he broke his neck after being involved in a car crash.
While vacationing in Spain, the singer was involved in a car accident where their Porsche skidded on oil and hit a wall at 70mph.
He was pinned down and left in a neck brace after, according to Hello! magazine. He said he felt “like the luckiest man alive” after a nurse informed him he had been 3mm away from death or paralysis.
Over concerns that the operation would damage his vocal chords, the singer was treated with physiotherapy on a daily basis.
In 2010, Darius decided to change his surname to Campbell in order to better reflect his Scottish heritage. He said that he was very “proud” of his Scottish roots and felt compelled to make the change after hearing his grandfather sing a traditional Scottish song.
He said his real name was Darius Campbell-Danesh and that it wasn’t his idea to change his name, adding that television producers made the decision for him.
In 2019, he reverted to Darius Danesh, in honor of his father Dr. Booth Danesh, calling him his “number one hero.”
Darius was in several well-known relationships, but he is most known for marrying Natasha Henstridge, a Canadian actress and model.
In 2011, the couple tied the knot, but they subsequently made the “mutual decision” to divorce.
When Darius moved from Scotland to the United States, he became a step-dad to her two young children.
He told the Herald newspaper that their relationship was “turbulent”, and Darius felt awful when they filed for divorce years later.
After their breakup, Darius called it a “grieving period.”
He said to Herald: “You see, you don’t break up with one person, you break up with three.
“And in some ways, it’s like a death.”
Darius was rumored to be dating model Daisy Lowe and actress Jacqui Ainsley before she married movie director Guy Ritchie.
After his parents both overcame cancer, he became a philanthropist for several charities that focus on cancer research.
On 11 August, at the age of 41, Darius died suddenly in his US home.
The cause of his death in Rochester, Minnesota is unknown as of now.
A statement issued by his family said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh.
“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. 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.”