Former St. Petersburg child star, 'American Idol' singer Marque Lynche dies at 34
Marque “Tate” Lynche Jr., a St. Petersburg-bred singer and actor who went from The All New Mickey Mouse Club to Broadway to the semifinals of American Idol, has died in New York at age 34.
According to the New York Daily News, Lynche was found dead by his roommate Sunday afternoon. Police are investigating the incident as a medical examiner seeks to determine a cause of death.
While local audiences may be more familiar with Lynche’s younger brother Michael, a top-four finalist on American Idol in 2010, it was Marque who first made waves as an entertainer.
A son of late former Tampa Bay Times columnist Michelle Lynche, Marque appeared on a couple of episodes of Star Search in 1991 and 1992, and was a frequent National Anthem performer at sporting events all over Tampa Bay. In 1993 he was cast through an open audition on Disney’s All New Mickey Mouse Club, alongside future A-listers like Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
Lynche stuck with theater throughout his school years at Southside Fundamental Middle School and Gibbs High School, and by age 19 had studied at New York’s famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and landed a role in an operatic version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in Las Vegas. In 2000 and 2001, he performed as Simba in the Broadway production of The Lion King.
But it was in 2004 when he popped from TV screens across America during the third season of American Idol, eventually won by Fantasia Barrino. At age 23, he made the show’s top 32, and was invited to compete for a wild-card slot for the finals.
“You feel like you’re performing for caricatures or something,” Lynche, then 23, told the Times during his run. “I just couldn’t believe I was there. ... I was kind of freaked out.”
In cutting Lynche before the top 12, Simon Cowell said he was more of a stage performer than a pop star. His words proved prophetic: Lynche moved straight from Idol to Fame On 42nd Street, an Off-Broadway update of the show Fame.
Producers “saw me on the show and they said (I) was perfect for this role,” Lynche told the Associated Press in 2004. “It did give me a platform to kind of be a quasi-celebrity and go in with a little bit of a name. So it makes it a little bit easier to do what I do.”
According to the Daily News, Lynche took an extended break from the entertainment industry after Fame, but had recently begun releasing new music.
“I really LOVE TO SING!” he tweeted in August. “I love seeing people filled from something I’m able to do.”
-- Jay Cridlin