Rickey Smith Dies; Former American Idol Finalist Was 36

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Rickey Smith, a popular contestant on Season 2 of American Idol, was killed on Thursday via a car accident on a highway just outside of Oklahoma City.

He was 36 years old.

Rickey Smith

According to TMZ, Smith was behind the wheel of his vehicle when another driver reportedly slammed into his car head-on.

Police have told the website that the other individual involved in the crash was traveling the wrong way down Oklahoma’s I-240 and has been booked for DUI.

Smith advanced all the way to the final eight competitors in 2003, standing out in a field that eventually got narrowed down to Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard in the finale.

Among his memorable performances, Smith once donned a disco-fabulous Afro wig for a rendition of Earth Wind and Fire’s “Let’s Groove."

He will also be remembered for smiling and chanting “Hercules! Hercules!” during his run on the show, along with drawing comparions during his run to Brian McKnight.

Smith initially auditioned for the show in Nashville by singing a version of McKnight's "One Last Cry."

Help us pay tribute to Smith by checking out one of his performance from Season 2 below:

Smith did not go on to find a huge amount of success in the recording industry.

In a 2008 interview with USA Today, he said he worked at a sports bar and “almost had an album" at one point.

"I had some good people around me," he told the newspaper. "I wasn't ready to accept the fact that I had to come back and give up music. I've made peace with it, but it's still frustrating." 

But Smith did at least remain beloved in his native state of Oklahoma.

"Anywhere I go, they tell me I'm still a celebrity," he said back then. "I appreciate that."

We send our condolences to the friends, family members and loved ones of Rickey Smith.

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