Record producer Steve Lillywhite has paid tribute to Darius Campbell Danesh, describing the late singer as a “gentleman” and saying his story is one of redemption.
The Scottish singer-songwriter and actor, whose family announced his death on Tuesday at the age of 41, was known as Darius Danesh when he made his first bid for fame on the show ITV Popstars in 2001.
He also appeared in the first series of Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young, and after finishing third in the series, Campbell Danesh turned down Simon Cowell’s offer of a recording contract and signed with the titan of music Lillywhite.
Lillywhite, 67, put U2 on the path to fame and worked with some of music’s biggest names including the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis band, Beady Eye, and many more. ‘others.
In 2011 he was appointed CBE and honored for his services to music.
Lillywhite told the PA news agency: “When I heard the news yesterday it affected me a lot more than I thought it would. Because it brought me back to the whole thing…I mean his story is such a beautiful story of redemption.
“You know how he was basically, he was ridiculed on Pop Idol, he ended up coming in third.
“And there wasn’t much going on for him, but what he had was this huge heart.”
A friend of Lillywhite, who was working with Campbell Danesh at the time, called him up and suggested the two meet.
Lillywhite said: “I met him and my first thought when I met him was, basically, he was a thoroughbred. He was like this incredible stallion.
“I mean, you know, tall, handsome, he just reminded me of such a great example of the human race that you’ll ever find and it was fantastic.”
Campbell Danesh’s debut single Colourblind was released in July 2002 and went straight to number one, marking the start of a streak of top 10 releases.
Since his death, the song has re-entered the music charts and by Wednesday morning it was at the top of the iTunes download chart.
Lillywhite said, “I listened to it again yesterday, and I have to say it held up pretty well.”
Campbell Danesh’s debut album Dive In was released in late 2002 and reached the UK Top 10.
Lillywhite was responsible for many important new wave and post-punk records, including early albums by Siouxsie And The Banshees and XTC.
His credits also include solo releases by Morrissey – having previously worked on the Smiths’ single Ask – and he has worked with The Pogues and The La’s, and produced the Stones’ album Dirty Work.
Lillywhite said of Campbell Danesh: “He came out and he wrote his own song and he signed with the anti-Simon Cowell, which was me in a way, because I was the guy who was doing music. rock music and Simon Cowell was the guy who did all the pop music.
“I have nothing but good things to say about him…talented, big heart.”
Campbell Danesh’s family said in a statement that he was “found unconscious in bed at his apartment in Rochester, Minnesota on August 11 and was pronounced dead that afternoon by the local medical examiners office.” .
Local police confirmed there were “no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances”, with the cause of his death unknown at this stage, the family added.
Former Pop Idol judges Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman and series one runner-up Gareth Gates also paid tribute to Campbell Danesh following the news.