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'American Idol' finalist Michael Johns dead at 35

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Michael Johns, the charismatic singer who rose to fame as an "American Idol" finalist in 2008, has died at the age of 35, according to various media sources and the singer's personal website. The Australian-born singer/songwriter is the first finalist to pass away in the show's 13-season history, Reality Rocks' Lyndsey Parker reported via Yahoo Music August 2.

An official cause of death has not been released but The Hollywood Reporter revealed that their sources say that Michael Johns died from a blood clot in his ankle.

Johns complained of pain in his legs days before his death, according to his close friend, Torrey Gimbill. It grew so severe that he had to be taken to the hospital.

"My mom took him into the emergency room [Thursday]," Gimbill told E! News. "He had complained about his leg hurting him, he thought it might be a blood clot because it had bruised pretty badly and he never hurt his leg."

TMZ corroborated that Michael Johns was at hospital on Thursday, doctors could find nothing wrong with the 35-year-old singer besides abnormal swelling that had migrated from his ankle to his legs. So they sent him home.

The next afternoon, the singer was found unresponsive on a couch in a friend's apartment. Paramedics responding to a 911 call found Johns already dead.

If clotting is indeed found to be the cause of Johns death, it should be noted that, according to the CDC, such clotting can lead to a loose blood clot that becomes lodged in the vascular system (venous thromboembolism). The clotting is brought about through a vascular condition known as deep vein thrombosis, referred to as such because the origin of the clot occurs in the ankles or legs. An estimated 300,000 to 600,000 individuals each year present with symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, with 10-30 percent dying within one month of a diagnosis but sudden death (25 percent) is usually how people find out they suffer from the malady.

"American Idol" posted to its Facebook page: "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. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Michael Johns was born in Perth, Australia, to a musically talented family. But as a young man, Johns was also a very talented tennis player. But dreams of Wimbledon had dimmed by the time he was headed off to college, but he leveraged his ability and a scholarship to get to the United States, where he believed he would have a better chance in the music industry. After doing the club scene and working with a few bands, he decided to give "American Idol" a shot.

The singer was at the age limit of 28 when he auditioned for "Idol" in the summer of 2007. He kept making the cut until he found himself in the Top 10. Charismatic and handsome, his skills honed by doing the small club cirucuits (especially in the Atlanta, Ga., area), Johns was an early favorite to win Season 7 of the reality singing competition. That was saying something, given that Season 7 produced the two Davids, David Cook and David Archuleta, Brooke White, Jason Castro, Syesha Mercado, and Carly Smithson. So it came as a shock to many (perhaps the third greatest shock in "Idol" history, behind Clay Aiken's loss to Ruben Studdard in Season 2 and Chris Daughtry's elimination in fourth place during Season 5), when Johns was eliminated in eighth place. Although not much consolation to Johns, his elimination prompted the installment of the judges' "Save" option, where the judges could, once during the season, actually keep a contestant from being voted off the show.

Johns would go on to develop contacts in the music industry and Hollywood, performing with the likes of renowned producer/songrwriter David Foster. He recorded the 2009 studio album Hold Back My Heart and released it to limited success. He also continued to work with fellow Season 7 finalist Brooke White, dueting with her on a song on the soundtrack to Olympic snowboarder Shaun White's documentary "Don't Look Down." (Johns actually performed on ten of soundtrack's eleven songs.) He also appeared on White's 2009 release, High Hopes & Heartaches.

He was working on new material just before he died. He posted to his Twitter account on July 10: "Headed to the studio to work on new song called 'Reckless' been waiting a long time for this one"

A number of tweets of condolence and support for the singer's family have come from "American Idol" alums and associates, including Ryan Seacrest, Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul, Chris Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Blake Lewis, and Brooke White. Simon Cowell, who sat as judge for the first nine seasons of "American Idol," posted: "I just heard the very sad news that Michael Johns has passed away. A truly great guy. Rest in peace Michael."

Michael Johns' family also released a statement (per TMZ): "Our family is devastated by the passing of our beloved Michael, a wonderful husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend. We appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from all corners of the globe."

The talented singer leaves behind Stacey Vuduris, his wife of seven years.

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