TO THE world he was an American Idol contestant, a successful artist, a star.
But to former Rockhampton woman Sonya Ottaway, Michael Johns was a best friend.
The 35-year-old singer, who hailed from Perth, passed away suddenly in Los Angeles last week.
Yesterday, Sonya sent The Morning Bulletin a tribute to the man she called her mentor.
"Take away all the Hollywood glitz and glamour and he was just an Aussie boy down to the core," she said.
"I remember he had to sing the US anthem at the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game and just before he went to sing he said to me 'Son, do you think they'd mind if I did Waltzing Matilda right now'. He certainly had a fantastic sense of humour."
Sonya was born and raised in the beef capital, but now lives in the US and heads the Netball America association.
Sport was one of the many things Sonya and Michael had in common, but music was his number one passion.
"He performed onstage with Bruce Springsteen (his idol) and many others," she said.
"His highlight was to sing at Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday party."
Away from the spotlight, Sonya said Michael was a listener who made everyone feel special.
"He certainly lit up a room and knew everybody in it by the time he left," she said.
"The ability to touch the people the way he did is something his true friends are really going to miss."
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