Lil' Chris, the 24-year-old English singer who rose to fame in 2006 when he appeared on Gene Simmons' Rock School, has passed away. The young man is said to have died unexpectedly on 24 March.
Tributes have been pouring in for the Suffolk-born star – whose real name was Chris Hardman - following the news of his passing.
Lil' Chris - Chris Hardman - is reported to have passed away aged 24
McBusted drummer Harry Judd was among the first to remember the talented youngster. "Shocked and saddened to hear the news about Lil' Chris," he wrote. "He supported us a while back and was a star and an awesome guy. #RIPChris."
Harry's bandmate Danny Jones tweeted: "Devastated to hear about @CJHardman. My thoughts are with his family. We lost a talented dude! #RIPChris", while Tom Fletcher wrote: "Can't tell you how tragic it is to hear about Chris. Such a sweet, lovely dude. So shocked and sad. #RIPCJHardman."
Caroline Flack also took to Twitter to pay her respects: "Oh my god. Lil Chris. He was a regular guy on TMI. Always always such a polite lovely guy. That's so sad."
Lil' Chris – real name Chris Hardman – was last active on his Twitter account on 18 March, just six days ago. "Good morning everybody!" he wrote. "Lovely day! Love to you all x."
There is speculation that the star was battling depression. In a message posted on 3 March, he told fans, "Thinking about quitting music forever… There has to come a time eventually when I have to face reality. I'm just not good enough."
Prior to that, in October of last year, he wrote, "Depression really sucks. Learning how to notice it can save lives and your own feelings at times. Take your time to understand it, for everybody."
Chris came to the public's attention in January 2006 at the age of 15, when he appeared in series two of Channel 4's Rock School. The TV show saw Kiss rocker Gene Simmons try to form a rock band from a class of school children, and Chris immediately stood out for his ability to sing, play guitar, plays drums and write songs.
The talented singer rose to fame on Channel 4's Rock School in 2006
He went on to sign a record deal and released his debut single, Checkin' It Out, in September 2006, followed by his debut album, Lil' Chris, which was released in December that same year. Chris made a number of other TV appearances, including Celebrity Scissorhands, The Weakest Link, and also appeared as a support act for McFly, before the release of his second studio album, What's It All About in October 2008.
More recently, Chris appeared on stage – between 18 June and 14 July 2012 – in Loserville: The Musical at the West Yorkshire playhouse in Leeds. In October 2013, he announced via Twitter that he was working on a new album.