From cringey rendition of Britney Spears hit, to West End stardom, marriage to Hollywood actress and near fatal coma: How Pop Idol’s Darius Danesh went from joke act to Chicago, friendship with Rebel Wilson and Gerard Butler and TWO brushes with death
- Scottish singer was found dead at home in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11
- Darius first shot to fame performing cringey rendition of Britney hit on Popstars
- Although unsuccessful, he joined Pop Idol the following year and came third
- The 41-year-old went on to enjoy a hugely successful music and theatre career
Darius Campbell Danesh first shot to fame when he appeared on Popstars in 2001 before going on to defy critics and enjoy a successful music and theatre career.
In a performance regarded by most as cringey when it aired at the time, Darius garnered attention for his cover of Britney Spears’s Hit Me Baby One More Time sporting his memorable ponytail and goatee on the ITV talent show.
While the show’s eventual winners would go on to form Hear’Say and Liberty X, Darius didn’t give up on achieving musical stardom.
The Scottish singer joined the bill for Pop Idol just a year later, with a new look, and crooned his way to third place, finishing behind runner-up Gareth Gates and winner Will Young.
After Pop Idol, Campbell Danesh turned down Simon Cowell’s offer of a record deal and signed with producer Steve Lillywhite, whose credits include U2 and the Rolling Stones.
His first single Colourblind was released in 2002 and shot to number one in the charts where it stayed for two weeks.
The singer went on to have a total of five top ten UK hits and his debut album Dive In went platinum.
Darius Campbell (Billy Flynn) during the curtain call ‘Chicago’ musical, Garrick Theatre, London, Britain – 08 Nov 2011
Humble beginnings: Darius, formerly Darius Danesh, first gained fame in 2001 after appearing on the talent competition Popstars singing Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time (Pictured)
Darius’ first single Colourblind was released in 2002 and shot to number one in the charts where it stayed for two weeks.
After coming third in Pop Idol he joined the first series of ITV’s Popstar To Operastar contest, beating Bernie Nolan of the Nolan Sisters in a close final.
A few months after his win on the ITV show, which featured Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and Mexican-born tenor Rolando Villazon as judges, he landed his first major opera role as he was cast in a new production of Carmen at London’s O2 Arena.
Darius took on the principal role of toreador Escamillo in the production, for a one-off performance which marked the first ever opera at the venue at the time.
He went on to forge a successful stage career, appearing in Chicago as Billy Flynn in two runs of the production, as well as Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and more in the West End.
In 2011, speaking about reprising the role of Chicago’s scheming lawyer Flynn, he said he had based his portrayal of the character on his old mentor and Pop Idol judge, Simon Cowell.
Darius Campbell bows at the curtain call during the Press Night performance of Chicago at Garrick Theatre
Reality TV star: A year later he was voted to the finals of Pop Idol with a new image and style
Campbell starred opposite Ugly Betty star America Ferrera in the musical set in prohibition-era Chicago, and said: ‘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 recognise that in terms of the character.’
He credited Cowell with persuading him to take on the role in Chicago in the first place.
He said: ‘I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences I’ve had and all the opportunities that it opened up and to be able to call Simon Cowell a friend and to be able to have dinner with him.’
He lived in the US and found love at a young age with Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge, whose films include sci-fi hit Species.
The couple, who began dating in 2006, married in 2011 at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, but were divorced a few years later.
He previously told the Scottish Herald: ‘That relationship was certainly not without its ups and downs. Over the course of 12 years, we broke up many times and had a period of six months apart.
The singer and actor with Natasha Henstridge at the 19th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Oscar viewing party at the Pacific Design Center on February 27, 2011 in West Hollywood
Darius Campbell Danesh was married to actress Natasha Henstridge from 2011 to 2018
‘It was often a long-distance relationship for half of it. That in itself was an amazing experience, but a painful one. When you love someone you want to be with them.’
Later in life, Darius made a foray into Hollywood as a co-executive producer on the horror film Imperium starring Daniel Radcliffe in 2016.
The singer made friends along the way, being pictured with actors including fellow Scot Gerard Butler in June this year.
In 2019, he was pictured enjoying a low-key stroll with unlikely pal actress Rebel Wilson in Portofino, Italy.
Darius had experience two near-death experiences in his short life and had spoken publicly about how they impacted him.
In 2010, the singer spoke to Hello! magazine about a car crash in which he broke his neck.
The Scot had been a passenger in a Porsche when it hit a wall at 70mph after skidding on oil during a sunshine break in Spain.
Then, in 2017, Darius suffered another health scare when he went into a near-fatal coma after he accidentally drank some dirty water from the Thames while filming an advert for a charity water filter.
Donning a classic black dress, the Australian actress, 39, looked happy and relaxed as she headed out arm-in-arm with Darius while they were pictured in Portofino, Italy, back in 2019
Darius Campbell Danesh (left) enjoying a walk with his friend, the actor and fellow Scot Gerard Butler (right), in Malibu on June 11 this year. This is the last known picture of the star in public
The Pop Idol star had gone to Glasgow to see his mother for her birthday. It turned out the filter he used in the advert was a dummy version.
He told the Daily Record: ‘It turned out I had a cerebral oedema where your brain swells bigger than your skull. Dad saved my life. He got me to hospital. They diagnosed it quickly.’
His mother Avril, who was going through treatment at the time, kept a bedside vigil after he lapsed into a coma.
Campbell Danesh was born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and Iranian father.
The eldest of three boys, he attended Bearsden Primary School before studying English literature and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.
Although he found fame as Darius Danesh, he later changed his name to incorporate his mother Avril’s maiden name, Campbell, after an emotional visit to his grandfather in a Paisley nursing home made him reflect on his Scottish heritage.
He became a supporter of cancer charities including Cancer Research UK after both his parents were diagnosed with cancer and recovered.
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