Country Mornings with Jonathan & Ayla

Country Mornings with Jonathan & Ayla

Country Mornings with Jonathan & Ayla

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

C.J. Harris made it to the Top 6 on Season 8 of American Idol in 2014. According to C.J.’s family, he suffered an apparent heart attack on Sunday, January 15th in Jasper, Alabama. He was taken to a local hospital by ambulance but didn’t pull through. He was only 31 years old.

C.J. blew the Idol judges away with his rendition of the Allman Brothers Band, “Soulshine,” during his Idol audition. Keith Urban loved it and said “I just believed it and I felt it.”

One of C.J.’s favorite memories was performing with country singer, Darius Rucker. Here’s part of that performance from the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. They also performed at the Grand Ole Opry together.

Here’s a list of other American Idol contestants whose lives were taken way too soon.

  • Nikki McKibbin

    Nikki Mckibbin

    Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX.

    Nikki McKibbon was a finalist on the first ever season of American Idol, Season 1, and placed 3rd overall. She died in November of 2020 after suffering a brain aneurysm several weeks before her death. She was only 42 years old.


  • Willie Spence

    Georgia native, Willie Spence, passed away in October 2022 after sustaining injuries in a car accident in Tennessee, according to a local news outlet. He was only 23 years old.

  • Leah LaBelle

    Leah LaBelle was a contestant on Season 3 of Idol. She and her husband, NBA athlete Rasual Butler, died in a car accident in 2004. He was driving when he lost control of the vehicle. She was only 32 years old. 

  • Rickey Smith

    Rickey Smith

    (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)

    Rickey Smith was a finalist on season 2 of American Idol. He was killed in a car accident in May 2016.  TMZ reported at the time that Smith was driving on the highway in Oklahoma City when another car caused a head-on collision. He was only 36 years old.

  • Joanne Borgella

  • Michael Johns

    michael johns

    (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Celebrity Fight Night)

    Michael Johns competed on Season 7 and he died in August of 2014 after suffering from a blood clot in his ankle, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 35 years old.

  • Haley Smith

  • Marque 'Tate' Lynch

  • Jessika Baier

    Jessika Baier tried out and auditioned for Season 8 of Idol. While she didn’t make it on the show, she was sadly killed in a car accident in Michigan in December 2009. She was only 21 years old. 

  • Alexis Cohen

    Alexis Cohen was featured in the auditions episodes of Seasons 7 and 8. Alexis was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Seaside Heights, New Jersey in July of 2009. She was only 25 years old.

  • C.J. Harris

    C.J. Harris was on Season 13 of American Idol. The 31-year old Alabama native “suffered an apparent heart attack” on January 15, 2023.

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