Darius Campbell Danesh was a singer-songwriter alum of two British reality-TV talent competitions, “Popstars” and “Pop Idol,” which aired on the ITV network in 2001 and 2002, respectively. He became one of the biggest stars to come out of the shows, and had a No.1 hit single, “Colourblind.” He released two successful albums, and was later involved in producing films, and performing in musical plays such as “Chicago,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Funny Girl,” and “Gone with the Wind.” His fans were devastated when it was reported that he passed away in August 2022.
- 1 Early Life, Education, and Family
- 2 Darius’ journey to pop stardom
- 3 Darius’ love for musical plays
- 4 Personal Life: Flings and Serious Relationships
- 5 Darius died at the age of 41
- 6 “Pop Idol” Reunion
Early Life, Education, and Family
Darius Campbell Danesh was born on 19 August 1980, in Glasgow, Scotland, to an Iranian father, Booth Danesh, and a Scottish mother, Avril Campbell. He and his younger brothers, Cyrus and Aria, were raised in a comfortable home in the East Dunbartonshire town of Bearsden. Both of his parents were medical doctors – his mother a general practitioner, while his father was a gastroenterologist.
He went to the Bearsden Primary School and then to Glasgow Academy. His parents wanted him to pursue a career in medicine and be a doctor like them, or a lawyer, but Darius’s interests leaned on the arts and entertainment, which were founded early on in his life. When he was 12 years old, he participated in the Scottish Opera “The Trojans” with a non-singing role as a Trojan boy. He then joined the theatre company on their tour, and had the chance to perform at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. His theater experience made him fall in love with the stage, and he longed to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). However, he followed his parents’ advice, and attended the University of Edinburgh where he studied English Literature and Philosophy.
Darius’ journey to pop stardom
Darius’ life changed when he left the university to participate in a couple of British reality TV talent competitions.
Competed in “Popstars” and “Pop Idol”
In 2001, ITV acquired the rights to produce the British version of “Popstars,” a TV show that originated in New Zealand; they were looking for new singers to make up a modern pop group. It was presented as a documentary, similar to the “X-Factor” talent show, complete with panel judges but without the public votes. He gained a bit of fame when he performed Britney Spears’s signature song, “Baby One More Time,” in falsetto, however, halfway through the series, he was booted out of the show. In one of his interviews, he said, ‘I was too cocky on Popstars, but it taught me too much.’ He didn’t blame the judges for not liking him, because he confessed that he wouldn’t have chosen himself too, if he was one of them.
A year later, Darius participated in another talent show called “Pop Idol,” and this time he had a bit of success. After being ridiculed for his ill-advised performance and his arrogance in the previous reality-TV show, he prepared something different for this series. He became competitive and showed what he was made of, ending up as one of the finalists, but losing to Gareth Gates who came in second, and Will Young who won first place. Darius was offered a multimillion recording contract by Simon Cowell, a successful record company executive, but refused because he wanted to record and produce his own composition. Simon wanted him to sing a cover of the Tom Jones hit, “It’s Not Unusual.” He didn’t have any problem with the song or with Simon as he had a great deal of respect for the man, but wanted to do more than that.
Topped the UK charts with debut single
The 21-year-old Darius signed up with Mercury Records, and was given the chance to record and produce his own penned songs. His debut single “Colourblind” was released on 29 July 2002, and it affirmed that he’d made the right career decision, as the song topped the UK Singles Chart for a couple of weeks, and made it to 13th spot on the Irish Singles Chart; the song was certified silver back then, and became gold in 2020.
Darius met with Simon Cowell again years after his song became a hit, and the executive producer was still disgruntled that his offer had been turned down. Nonetheless, he praised the singer for forging his path by doing what he seemed was right for him at that time, but he also told him, ‘we still would have sold more records if we’d done it my way.’
Released two albums, “Dive In” and “Live Twice”
His debut single was part of his album “Dive In,” which was given a platinum certification in 2004, and peaked at No.6 on the UK Albums Chart. It consisted of 12 self-composed songs and collaborations with many known producers, such as Deni Lew and Pete Glenister of The Misfits. He said he was lucky that back then, his executive producer for the album was Grammy Award winner Steve Lillywhite, who had been credited for working with great artists such as U2, The Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, and The Dave Matthews Band.
Darius’ second and final album was “Live Twice”, released in October 2004. It wasn’t as successful as his debut album, as it didn’t even reach the top 20 on the UK Album Chart. However, the songs “Kinda Love” and “Live Twice” from the album peaked at No.8 and No.7, respectively. All in all, he had five songs that reached the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart. This album was dedicated to his father, as Dr. Danesh was battling cancer at that time.
Authored “Sink and Swim,” a Sunday Times best-seller
Darius wanted to share his journey with his fans and wrote the book entitled “Sink and Swim”, sharing his experience of what it was like in reality-TV competitions, and advising those who wanted to enter the world of entertainment. He told personal stories about himself and his family. The book made it to The Sunday Times best-seller list.
Excited to share the latest addition to my #etsy shop: Ultra Rare Darius Campbell Autobiography Sink Or Swim My Story Music Memorabilia Hardback Book Pictorial Cover Popstars Pop Idol Scottish https://t.co/Okglf2HkGh #ultrarare #dariuscampbell #autobiography #sinkorswi pic.twitter.com/0K3rd8IXuq
— welshgoatvintage (@welshgoatvintag) August 17, 2022
Darius’ love for musical plays
After he fulfilled his dreams of successfully recording songs, Darius went back to participating in musical theater plays. His first major role in an opera was in “Carmen” in which he played the role of the toreador named Escamillo. The transition from pop idol to stage plays was a great decision, as he flourished in this arena too.
The youngest actor for the role of Billy Flynn
From 2005 to 2006, Darius at age 25 portrayed the role of Billy Flynn in the West End version of “Chicago.” He was the youngest actor to be given this opportunity, and proved all the naysayers wrong when they said he wouldn’t be able to pull it off. The former pop idol had two runs with the production.
Started to get big roles in big productions
While Darius knew that he was equipped with the right skills for the theater, he was a bit hesitant to dive into just any role available. There was a time he wasn’t so keen on playing the main lead character for Michael Grandage’s award-winning production of “Guys and Dolls,” but after he watched Ewan McGregor play Sky Masterson, he drew inspiration from it, and went on to add the character into his acting résumé in 2007. By the following year, he was seen doing “Gone with the Wind,” playing the charming philanderer, Rhett Butler, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn.
We are incredibly sad to hear that Darius Campbell Danesh has passed away.
Darius lit up our stage in the 2017 production of Funny Girl and won the hearts of staff, audiences and everyone he met. pic.twitter.com/DF4VJ4XaiO
— Wolverhampton Grand (@WolvesGrand) August 16, 2022
Joined another reality-TV talent show
British reality-TV shows continued popping up by the dozen, and in 2010, Darius opted to join another one entitled “Popstar to Operastar.” It would be his third time participating in this type of reality show, and people wondered why; he said that he found its premise to be quite interesting and challenging. He was joined by seven celebrity pop stars including Jimmy Osmond, Danny Jones, Bernie Nolan and Vanessa White, who all went through rigorous training under the tutelage of renowned opera stars to become skilled opera singers. His performances were loved not only by the judges but by the voting public as well, as he sang “Nessun Dorma,” “Granada,” “Non-Piu Andrai,” and “Toreador” to the delight of the opera fans. He even performed a duet with one of his mentors, Rolando Villazon, with the song “Impossible Dream.” The contestants were all skilled and determined to win, but Darius was declared its first season’s champion.
Became a successful, and dependable West End leading man
Darius continued honing his skills by collaborating with other artists, and exploring different music genres, but he would always go back to musical theater. In July 2013, a West End adaptation of the popular James Jones novel entitled “From Here to Eternity” was announced, and the producers chose Darius for its main lead, First Sergeant Milt Warden. It played at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and ran from September 2013 to April 2014.
After a year, he was involved with the West End revival of the musical, “Funny Girl”, playing the role of Nick Arnstein, a businessman and gambler, who was in a relationship with Fanny Brice played by Sheridan Smith. The show premiered in November 2015 at the Menier Chocolate Factory and had a limited run, ending in March 2016, but was the fastest-selling show in Menier’s history. Darius was also part of the UK Tour, which started in February 2017.
Personal Life: Flings and Serious Relationships
After Darius was thrown into the limelight through his participation in “Popstars,” he lost his privacy, as fans became naturally curious about his personal life. Here are some of his romances, from flings to serious relationships:
Jacqui Ainsley, his first public relationship
The “Colourblind” singer had his first public relationship with Jacqui Ainsley, who was the model hired as his co-star in his music video in 2002, and it was love at first sight. The relationship didn’t last longer than they would have wanted, but they remained friends after the breakup. Darius said that there wasn’t any third party involved, and that they were just too young when they met. He also admitted that there were so many things going on in his life at that time that he couldn’t prioritize his personal life. The “Die Another Day” Bond girl went on to marry movie director Guy Ritchie, who is Madonna’s ex-husband.
Natasha Tonya Henstridge, ex-wife
Darius dated Canadian actress-model Natasha Tonya Henstridge for seven years before he married her in 2011; they met when he moved from Scotland to the US. He became stepfather to his wife’s sons from her previous relationship with Damian Chapa, but it didn’t take long before they realized that they were better off as friends rather than spouses. Some people called it a turbulent relationship. The couple had many break-ups, but kept on reconciling until they reached their limit. They filed for divorce in 2013, and it was eventually granted in 2018. Darius admitted that he went into a period of grieving, as he had a difficult time adjusting to having no contact with his former wife and his stepsons whom he adored. He shared, ‘You see, you don’t break up with one person, you break up with three. In some ways, it felt like a death.’
Singer Darius Campbell Danesh tragically died of ‘inhalation of chloroethane’ it has been confirmed. But what is…
Daisy Lowe, his friend turned lover
After the failure of his marriage, he started dating again in 2016, saying, ‘There was a shift that happened a few months ago where we thought we’d go from friends to dating.’ He was referring to Daisy Lowe, who was the daughter of Gavin Rossdale, the lead singer and guitarist of the band Bush. They thought they’d found love in each other’s arms and had a great time together, but both agreed that they should just be friends.
Darius died at the age of 41
The entertainment industry was shocked when it was reported that Darius died on 11 August 2022, in his Rochester home in Minnesota. The local authorities shared that the Scottish singer/songwriter was found unresponsive in his bedroom. There were no previous reports that he was undergoing any health problems.
Cause of sudden death
There was no official cause of death reported. When the Rochester police were asked if there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding Darius’ death, they wouldn’t elaborate, and just said that it was still under investigation. Many people, most especially his fans, were curious about the reason behind it. The Danesh family released a statement later on that said, ‘The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances.’ They also shared that the cause of his sudden death was still unknown at that time and that his body was still undergoing forensic medical examinations.
Two past near death-experiences
When news of Darius’ death spread, some of his fans remembered the time he shared in a magazine interview that he had two near-death experiences. The first one was in 2010, when he was involved in a vehicular accident and ended up with a fractured neck. He was with friends in a Porsche going around in Spain when the car swerved and skidded on an oil spill, and slammed into a wall at 70 miles per hour. His second was in 2015 when he accidentally drank the water from River Thames while filming a promotional video for Fresh20 Water Filter, and ended up with meningitis or cerebral edema, which placed him into a coma. He said that his father saved him by immediately transporting him to the nearest hospital, where the doctors accurately diagnosed him and gave him the appropriate treatment. His immunity was reduced due to what happened, as his white blood cell count decreased for several months.
Some of the speculations about the cause of his death
When there were no official announcements of the cause of Darius’ sudden passing, people started to speculate. Initially, some feared that it was due to foul play, but there was no murder investigation of any sort. Other fans thought that his health could have suffered due to his low immunity issues. Some said that it could be related to the fact that both of his parents battled cancer, and that his body was also weak. His mother had breast cancer in 2015 while his father had stage-four lymphoma, but both of them recovered following radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
“Pop Idol” Reunion
A few weeks before his untimely death, there was talk that Darius would be seen again on stage with his former “Pop Idol” finalists, Gareth Gates and Will Young. Apparently, there were plans to create a reunion special with the three of them, to be hosted by the popular TV presenter duo, Ant & Dec, and scheduled to be filmed at the Criterion Theatre in London. His fans were devastated that they wouldn’t see him on it.
In one of his interviews, the self-confessed theatre geek was asked if he was more of a musical theatre performer or a recording artist, he replied ‘I’m a recording artist and a performer and a producer.’ Darius elaborated that he could be in any environment as long as the viewing public was willing to accept him. It didn’t matter if it was singing his pop songs or doing theatre or opera, he would always see himself as a professional storyteller.