Nikki McKibbin, Finalist on 'American Idol' Season 1, Dead at 42

The singer suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday, her husband revealed.

Rest in peace, Nikki McKibbin. The American Idol finalist has died after suffering an aneurysm, her husband revealed on social media on Saturday. She was 42. 

"The love of my life Nikki Sadler suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday," McKibbin's husband, Craig Sadler, wrote on Facebook. "She would already be gone, but she's an organ donor and has been kept on life support to make that possible. That shouldn't be a surprise to us. Even at the end she is still giving."

"She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us," Sadler continued, before suggesting a sweet way McKibbin's fans can honor her memory. 

"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. 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," he concluded. 

McKibbin placed third on American Idol's first season in 2002. Kelly Clarkson won the season, while Justin Guarini was runner-up. 

Guarini remembered McKibbin in a touching post on Instagram on Saturday, calling her 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," he wrote. "But 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...'. Nikki was on cloud nine and the joy and excitement that radiated from her was infectious. After the kind of emotional beating she took at the hands of the masses, she deserved to feel good about herself, even for a little while. "

"Rest well, 'Gypsy'...and thank you for the laughter, merciless teasing, strength, vulnerability, love and friendship you showed me during our time together in the spotlight. #rip #americanidol," Guarini said. 

American Idol also mourned McKibbin's death on Twitter, writing, "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."

Ryan Seacrest commented on Idol's Instagram post, sharing, "Nikki was a superstar the moment she walked into auditions - she set the bar high with her talent and memorable stage presence. It was an honor to watch her grow and inspire millions of people. Our hearts go our to her family, friends, and fans who are grieving this tragic loss." 

McKibbin released her first album, Unleashed, in 2007, and a Christmas album the following year. In 2008, she appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, seeking treatment for alcohol and cocaine addiction, according to Variety. 

She also briefly returned to American Idol in 2014, as her then-15-year-old son, Tristen Langley, competed on the series. He made it past the audition, but was eliminated soon after. 

FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

See more on stars we've lost in the video below. 


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