Michael Johns, former American Idol finalist, dies at 35

Michael Johns, once an 'American Idol' finalist, has died at 35

Michael Johns, an Australian-born former "American Idol" finalist, has died, a Fox spokeswoman confirmed to the Los Angeles Times. He was 35.

Johns, whose Facebook page indicated he lived in Los Angeles, leaves behind his wife, Stacey Vuduris. 

The cause of death was not available.

"Our family is devastated by the passing of our beloved Michael, a wonderful husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend," said a family statement released via "American Idol," Fox, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment. "We appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from all corners of the globe. Please keep Michael in your thoughts and respect our need to grieve privately in this difficult time."

Johns starred in the seventh season of "American Idol" in 2008 and placed eighth after being sent home shortly after choosing to perform Aerosmith's "Dream On." His exit was widely viewed as surprising.

Johns continued his music career after "American Idol" and was working on a new song in early July, according to messages on his Twitter feed.

A number of former "American Idol" stars expressed their emotions about Johns' death on Twitter. Former "Idol" contestant Katie Stevens said she was "devastated," and fifth-season winner Taylor Hicks said Johns would be missed.

Johns originally came to the U.S. on a tennis scholarship, according to an interview he gave to Billboard in 2008. He said he had once dreamed of winning Wimbledon. Johns had fans in the tennis world, too, and on Saturday, well-known tennis players also expressed their condolences on Twitter. Mike Bryan, an American doubles player, tweeted "Love you Michael Johns. Unbelievable talent and even better human being. Thanks for the good times. We're all gonna miss you. RIP my man."

American Idol, Fox, FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment said in a statement that "Michael Johns was an incredible talent, and we are deeply saddened by the news of his passing. He was a part of our 'American Idol' family and he will be truly missed."

Shortly after he was sent home from "American Idol," Johns spoke to the Times about his elimination and his plans for the future. He said he wasn't sure whether he'd move back to Australia again:

"Will I live in Australia again? Maybe when I'm older? I don't know. But for me, my life and career are here. I love it here. I've been here 10 years. My whole adult life's been here, so it's kind of like ... I mean, obviously I'm not American, but I don't really feel Australian anymore so much. It's weird."

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