Danesh was a Scottish singer and actor who rose to fame on Popstars and Pop Idol, where he competed against Gates in the latter in 2002.
In an Instagram post shared on Tuesday (16 August), Gates wrote: “I can’t quite believe the news of my dear friend Darius passing. I’m heartbroken.
“Darius took me under his wing during our time in Pop Idol, like a big brother; always looking out for me and for that I thank you my friend. I will miss our chats.”
The “Say It Isn’t So” singer added: “He was one of the most beautiful, intelligent and gentle souls I was lucky enough to know, a soul that lit up every room. Goodbye my friend. Forever in my heart.”
The star’s death was announced by his family in a statement which read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh.
“Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room in Rochester, Minnesota, on 11 August and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiners’ office.”
The cause of death is unknown at this time, however the local police department confirmed there were no suspicions of foul play.
Danesh first earned fans for his theatrical cover of Britney Spears’s “Baby One More Time” on the 2001 talent show Popstars.
Soon afterwards, he came third on Pop Idol behind Will Young and Gates. His memorable moments on the show include his renditions of Tom Jones’s hit “It’s Not Unusual” and Atomic Kitten’s “Whole Again”. The final was watched by more than 13 million viewers.
Having turned down a record deal from judge Simon Cowell, Danesh nevertheless reached number one in the UK later that year with his track “Colourblind”. His album Dive In reached the top 10.
He became a West End star, appearing in musicals such as Chicago and the Oliver Award-winning Guys and Dolls.