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Chris Daughtry trying to move out of 'American Idol' shadow


By Christopher Rocchio, 03/01/2007 

According to Chris Daughtry, appearing as a finalist on the fifth season of Fox's American Idol was both a blessing and a curse.

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"There's this misconception that you get famous and everything is perfect.  If anything, it's harder," Daughtry told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published in the magazine's February 23 issue.  "It can be frustrating.  Well... I'm the one that decided to go on [Idol], so you can't be too upset about it... I think that every artist wants to break away from [Idol].  You can't force it, though.  You can't say, 'Don't call me Chris from American Idol.'  That's going to have to happen on its own."

Daughtry finished fourth on the fifth season of Idol, but if the decision to try-out for the reality competition series had been up to him, the 27-year-old North Carolina native wouldn't have even shown-up at auditions.  His wife Deanna, 33, was the one who pushed him.

"I was like, 'No way, it's too cheesy,'" Daughtry told Entertainment Weekly.  "It was a risk, but I had to do it.  It was a little intimidating.  There were 9,000 people outside.  I thought to myself, 'How am I gonna stand out?'"

Standing out was not a problem for Daughtry, and it wasn't just Idol fans that took notice of the bald rocker.

"He was different than the typical Idol style," Idol executive producer Ken Warwick told Entertainment Weekly.  "Chris had attitude and credibility.  He didn't sell himself out during the show."

Upon his departure from Idol, Daughtry turned down a gig to front the rock band Fuel.  He eventually found himself in the office of Clive Davis, who runs BMG Music Label Group and oversees the Idol side of the label's franchise.  During their meeting, Daughtry performed a rock ballad he'd penned called "Home."

"He was the first Idol that I'd ever met who had material that he had written.  That was compelling," Davis told Entertainment Weekly.

Daughtry now fronts the band that bears his name last name.  The band signed with 19 Recordings/RCA Records last July, and its debut album dropped in November 2006.  It went platinum on December 21, selling more than one million copies in a month before finally reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 album sales chart on January 23.  So far, it has sold more than 1.4 million copies and the band has launched a sold out 50-city tour.

"[This] isn't the Chris Daughtry Show.  It's a band," Daughtry told Entertainment Weekly.

Daughtry knows a thing or two about being in a band, as he was a member of the metal group Absent Element until his Idol audition.  "It was a real discouraging time.  I always felt like, next year we'll have a record deal.  But years went by and nothing happened.  It was horrible," Daughtry told Entertainment Weekly.  When he put together his new band, Daughtry said he invited Absent Element members to audition, but added "they didn't make the cut."

The most difficult thing for Daughtry, however, is not forgoing the image created by Idol.  Instead, he constantly thinks of Deanna and his children -- one step-daughter from his wife's previous marriage, one adopted son, as well as his own two children: eight-year-old daughter Hannah Price and seven-year-old son Griffin.

"I'm not there to help [Deanna] with anything.  I'm not there if she needs me," Daughtry told Entertainment Weekly.

On the current season of Idol, hopefuls eliminated from the competition exit to "Home," which is fitting considering the way Daughtry views his own swan song last May.

"It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me," Daughtry told Entertainment Weekly.  "If I had won, I would have been considered pop.  I didn't want to make an Idol record."


(Photo credit Fox)


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