Judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan and host Ryan Seacrest are among the American Idol stars who are paying tribute to Willie Spence, the season 19 runner-up who died in a car crash at age 23 in Tennessee on Tuesday.

On Ryan’s Instagram Story, he posted footage of Willie’s audition, and added, “Everybody on and off set loved him….you’ll be deeply missed.”


Lionel Richie posted footage of Willie singing Adele‘s “Set Fire to the Rain” and wrote, “Your light will always shine in this world. We were so blessed to get a chance to see you shine. My thoughts and prayers are with Willie’s family. Rest well my friend.”  Grace Kinstler, who came in third on season 19, replied, “One of a kind,” with a heart emoji.

Katy simply shared footage of Willie’s audition on her Instagram Story, while Luke shared the same footage, and added, “Willie really did light up every room he walked into. He could change the mood instantly when he started singing.  He will be truly missed.”

Chayce Beckham, who won season 19 and, as such, probably spent the most time with Willie, posted a sweet video of a message they recorded together for someone, as well as some backstage photos and video of Willie singing “Georgia On My Mind.” “Love You Brother,” he wrote, adding, “Rest In Peace King.”


As previously reported, according to a a Tennessee Highway Patrol report obtained by ABC News, Willie died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a car accident. As per the police report, Spence was driving when his vehicle “left the roadway” and collided with the back of a tractor trailer, which was stopped on the shoulder of the road.

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