‘American Idol’ Tragedies: Death of CJ Harris Marks Painful History for Reality Competition Show

‘American Idol’ Tragedies: Death of CJ Harris Marks Painful History for Reality Competition Show

The recent death of singer CJ Harris shocked the American Idol community, as another musician’s hopes and dreams of making it big were now gone forever.

Harris died on Sunday January 15 at the age of 31 in Jasper, Alabama.

The cause of death of the musician was not immediately announced.

An American Idol spokesman confirmed his death to Fox News Digital, and the “Idol” team took to Instagram to express their heartfelt condolences.

CJ HARRIS, FORMER AMERICAN IDOL CONTEST, DEAD AT 31

"american idol" Contestants Nikki McKibbin, CJ Harris and Willie Spence are the show's most recent deceased contestants.

American Idol contestants Nikki McKibbin, CJ Harris and Willie Spence are the show’s latest deceased contestants. (Getty Images)

“CJ Harris was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of his passing,” they wrote. “He will really be missed.”

Harris competed on the reality television show’s 13th season and placed sixth. Caleb Johnson won the series, which aired in 2014.

Following his “Idol” debut, Harris released his debut single “In Love” in 2019.

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In October 2022, Willie Spence died in a car accident at the age of 23.

Spence came second in season 19, which premiered in February 2021, and country singer Chayce Beckham was crowned the winner.

"american idol" Candidate CJ Harris died Sunday.  he was 31

American Idol contestant CJ Harris died Sunday. He was 31. (FOX picture collection)

CJ Harris was reminded of "american idol" Team on Monday on Instagram.

CJ Harris was remembered by the American Idol team on Instagram on Monday. (American Idol/Instagram)

Willie died in a car accident in Jasper, Tennessee.

His 2019 Jeep Cherokee collided with the back of a tractor-trailer after going off the freeway and he was pronounced dead on arrival, Lt. Bobby Clevenger told Fox News Digital at the time.

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“The coroner was called from the scene,” he said.

“Idol” judge Katy Perry honored Spence shortly after his death. “I love you Willie… pure soul. Sing with the angels my love,” she wrote.

“We are devastated by the passing of our beloved American Idol family member Willie Spence,” the show said in a statement. “He was a true talent who lit up every room he walked in and he will be deeply missed. We extend our condolences to his loved ones.”

Judge Luke Bryan agreed, tweeting, “Willie really lit up every room he walked into. He could change the mood as soon as he started singing. He is really missed.”

"american idol" Finalist Willie Spence died in October 2022.

American Idol finalist Willie Spence died in October 2022. (Eric McCandless)

Willie Spence continues singing with Leona Lewis "american idol" Final.

Willie Spence sings with Leona Lewis on the ‘American Idol’ finale. (Eric McCandless)

Before Spence’s death, Nikki McKibbin was the youngest “American Idol” contestant to die after the show. She died of a brain aneurysm in November 2020 at the age of 42.

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Her husband, Craig Sadler, confirmed her death on Facebook and shared that McKibbin was being kept alive so her organs could be harvested to donate to others.

“Many of you already know that something is wrong. The love of my life, Nikki Sadler, suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday. She would be gone already but she is an organ donor and was kept alive to make this possible,” he wrote on social media. “That shouldn’t surprise us. Even at the end she still gives in.”

McKibbin appeared on the first season of “Idol” and placed third behind Justin Guarini and winner Kelly Clarkson.

She had a successful run as a rock singer, appearing on a number of reality shows including Fear Factor and Battle of the Network Reality Stars.

Nikki McKibbin took part in the first season of "American Idol."

Nikki McKibbin took part in the first season of “American Idol”. (Jeffrey Mayer)

Nikki McKibbin, Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini appear first "American Idol."

Nikki McKibbin, Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini appear on the first “American Idol.” (Kevin Winters)

McKibbin also faced some personal demons, and in 2008 he performed Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” to seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

In 2014, she returned to Idol in a unique way – to support her son, Tristen Cole Lanley, who made it through the Hollywood round of casting.

Michael Johns, a singer who appeared in season seven in 2008, died in August 2014 at the age of 35.

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Johns, who was born in Australia, reportedly died of dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that restricted the flow of blood to his body and caused his heart to enlarge.

“I just heard the very sad news that Michael Johns has passed away. A really great guy. Rest in peace Michael,” Judge Simon Cowell tweeted at the time.

Leah LaBelle and her husband, ex-NBA player Rasual Butler, died in a solo car accident in Southern California in 2018. She was 31 years old.

Rasual Butler and Leah LaBelle died in a car accident in 2018.

Rasual Butler and Leah LaBelle were killed in a solo vehicle collision in 2018. (Paul Zimmerman)

Hayley Smith appeared in season 11 of American Idol.

Hayley Smith appeared in season 11 of American Idol. (American Idol)

LaBelle appeared on the third season of “Idol” in 2004 and placed 12th in the competition with Fantasia Barrino, Diana DeGarmo and Jennifer Hudson.

Haley Smith died in 2019 after being involved in a solo motorcycle accident in Maine. The 26-year-old singer was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Smith stunned the judges in 2012 when she belted out Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good” during her season 11 audition in Colorado.

Judge Steven Tyler told Smith it was an honor to hear her sing, as her looks and sound seemed to have ripped right out of his “era.”

Rickey E. Smith Jr., who starred in the second season, also died in a car accident.

The musician was killed in a wrong-way multi-vehicle collision in Oklahoma City in 2016. He was 36 years old.

Michael Johns appeared in the seventh season of "idol" in 2008. He died in 2014 at the age of 35.

Michael Johns appeared in the seventh season of “Idol” in 2008. He died in 2014 at the age of 35. (Jason LaVeris)

Joanne Borgella died of cancer in 2014.

Joanne Borgella died of cancer in 2014. (Bennet Raglin)

Joanne Borgella lost her battle with endometrial cancer in 2017 at the age of 32.

“At a young age, Joanne made a decision to serve and trust the Lord; and since her diagnosis over a year ago, Joanne has chosen to be a fighter too and share her journey with the world,” her family shared on social media at the time.

Borgella competed in the seventh season in 2008 and made the top 12 girls category.

Her family added, “Her faith, courage and strength were unshakable in the face of every obstacle she faced. Although our family is suffering from this great loss, we find comfort close by that Joanne shared with the Lord. We know her spirit is still shining and will live on in heaven.”

Marque “Tate” Lynch, who was a former Mickey Mouse Club mousketeer and appeared on Season 3 of American Idol, died in 2015 from “acute and chronic alcoholism,” a press rep confirmed to People magazine at the time. He was 34.

Other “Idol” singers who have passed away include Alexis Cohen, Jessika Baier and Paula Goodspeed.

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Tracy Wright is an entertainment writer for Fox News Digital. Send story tips to [email protected]