Nikki McKibbin, Ex-American Idol Finalist, Dead at 42

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Nikki McKibbin, a singer who advanced all the way to the finals on the very first season of American Idol, died early Sunday morning after suffering a brain aneurysm.

Nikki McKibbin

Nikki's husband, Craig Sadler, announced on Facebook on Saturday that his wife - who also went by Nikki Sadler - had suffered the brain aneurysm on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Based on what we've read online, funeral arrangements are pending.

She was 42 years old.


"Many of you already know something is wrong," wrote Craig, as you can see below.

'The love of my life Nikki Sadler suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday. 

"She would already be gone, but she's an organ donor and has been kept on life support to make that possible."

nikki facebook

McKibbin finished third on the inaugural run of American Idol, ending the competition behind only Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini.

Added her husband in his tribute post;

"Even at the end she is still giving."

Nikki McKibbin photo

"She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us."

"There are only a few hours left for me to hold her hand and kiss her forehead."

"The current Covid situation won't allow the huge service that she deserves, but I would like to offer you the opportunity to honor her."

McKibbin N

Concluded Craig:

She will be taken to the OR at 3:00 am Central time to give her final gift that will save the lives of strangers. 

You probably know she practically worshiped Stevie Nicks. 

Before they begin, they will play Landslide for her one last time. 


If you are able, you can pause at 3:00 wherever you are and listen to it with her. She will know that you're sharing her farewell. 

She loved so many of you and I know you loved her too.

A statement was has also posted on American Idol's official Twitter page.

It reads:

an idol tweet

"Nikki McKibbin was an incredible talent and we are deeply saddened by the news of her passing.

"She was part of our American Idol family and will be truly missed.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and friends during this difficult time."

Nik Mck

In addition to Craig, Nikki is survived by her son, Tristen Cole Langley, 22, who actually auditioned for season 13 of American Idol; and a granddaughter.

Regarding her time on Idol, Nikki is best-remembered for a cover of Alannah Myles' song, "Black Velvet."

She also sang versions of tracks by Stevie Nicks, Alanis Morissette, Melissa Etheridge and Janis Joplin.

nikki m

Nikki also appeared on Fear Factor and Battle of the Network Reality Stars.

Sadly, the aspiring singer battled substance abuse issues, which also prompted her to land in 2008 on Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab.

The reality star then moved to a sober living house and her time there was chronicled on Sober House, a spinoff of Celebrity Rehab.

May Nikki McKibbin rest in peace.

Nikki McKibbin again

UPDATE: Guarini has posted the following tribute...

@realnikkimckibbin was a fiery, funny lady who could sing the Hell out of a rock song with the same kind of ease and command she lovingly used to cut you with her twangy Southern wit.

Even in our 20’s when we were on American Idol together I could tell that she’d had a challenging life, and that not that many people had been kind to her along the way.

The Top Three Idols

Justin concludes:

I’ll never forget the day that her idol, Stevie Nicks, sent her flowers with a card that said, “You are the Gypsy that I was..."

That's high praise right there.

And here is former judge Paula Abdul...

2 Idols 2001

Nikki McKibbin was a strong & spirited woman who always stayed true to who she was.

She could bring the house down with her powerful voice and captivating stage presence. Our first season of Idol would not have been what it was without her.

My love & prayers go out to her family.

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