Staffordshire billionaire John Caudwell speaks of close friendship with Pop Idol's Darius Danesh

Billionaire John Caudwell has spoken of his close friendship to Pop Idol star Darius Danesh, calling him "one of the kindest men I knew".

Billionaire John Caudwell pictured at his home Broughton Hall, near Eccleshall in Staffordshire
Billionaire John Caudwell pictured at his home Broughton Hall, near Eccleshall in Staffordshire

Darius sang at a memorial service for the Staffordshire businessman's mother in one of his final performances just months before he died.

Mr Caudwell, who lives at Broughton Hall, near Eccleshall, said the star gave a personal rendition of Hallelujah at the service for Beryl Joan Caudwell, aged 98, in April.

The pair became friends after Darius got involved in charitable work led by Mr Caudwell.

The businessman spoke of he and Darius having a similar outlook to life, and said the singer had been upbeat and positive in recent months.

He spoke of the many unheralded good deeds carried out by the singer, who was found dead this week in a New York hotel room at the age of just 41.

Mr Caudwell said he visited former pottery worker Beryl several times while she was housebound following a stroke in 2003, singing the likes of Nessun Dorma and Nat King Cole's Smile.

The Phones4U founder posted a series of videos on Instagram of Darius's performances both at her bedside and service as he paid tribute to the star.

He posted an emotional tribute on his Instagram page, saying: "I am unbelievably shocked and devastated by the news of Darius Campbell Danesh’s premature death.

"I was lucky to know Darius, who was one of my mother’s favourite singers. In the many years that Mum was housebound, Darius visited her several times to serenade her in her bedroom. Mum would join in while beaming ear to ear.

"When Mum passed away earlier this year, it meant the world to me and the family to have Darius sing at her memorial service, a spine-tingling rendition of Hallelujah. He flew back specially from America for it.

"That was only four months ago, and in less than two months, Darius was due to perform at my own 70th birthday party. I cannot believe that this vibrant young man is now gone. He always seemed the picture of good health and good cheer, amazingly kind and amazingly talented. A man with a huge heart.

"Watching these videos again of Darius with Mum brings tears to my eyes. If there’s an afterlife, I hope they can reunite for another duet. My deepest condolences to Darius’ family, friends and many fans."

Darius came third on Pop Idol, behind Will Young and Gareth Gates, and went on to have a series of hits including a number one Colourblind. He also established himself on the stage in the West End and appeared in Funny Girl at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre. He also performed as Billy Flynn in Chicago, opposite Ugly Betty star America Ferrera.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Caudwell said Darius had suffered with pain after being in a car crash but that they had a similar outlook abut health and fitness and often talked about the importance of diet. He said he had spoken to him recently and he had appeared well, so was shocked when he heard of his death.

He said: "Darius was a very kind man and would do anything to help. He will be greatly missed."

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