American Idol star dies at 23: Watch Willie Spence ‘Rihanna Diamonds’ Cover
Willie Spence, the 2021 runner-up on American Idol, died tragically in a car accident in Tennessee.
In season 19 of American Idol, he wowed fans and judges alike with his rendition of Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds,’ and received endorsements from all three judges – Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan.
Watch the cover below.
In the final, he performed ‘Georgia on My Mind,’ ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’ and ‘Stand Up,’ but was narrowly defeated by Chayce Beckham.
How Did Willie Spence Die?
According to a report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Marion County medical examiner, the 23-year-old singer died after his Jeep Cherokee ‘left the roadway’ and collided with the back of a tractor-trailer that was stopped on the hard shoulder near Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Spence, who is from Georgia, finished second to Chayce Beckham on American Idol season 19 last year.
According to the report, both Spence and the tractor-trailer driver, who is 68 years old, were wearing seat belts.
The cause of death, according to Marion County medical examiner Barbara O’Neal, was “multisystem trauma due to motor vehicle accident,” and Spence was pronounced dead at the scene on Tuesday.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating why Spence’s car veered off the road, according to a spokesperson for the agency.
“We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence.” American Idol said.
“He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed.
“We send our condolences to his loved ones.”