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Lowestofter left a legacy as a defiantly independent talent show contestant
Thomas Wells, the singer with neo-soul-inflected tones who starred on The X Factor during its 2009 season, has died at the age of 46.
A statement posted on Wells’ Instagram account said the singer “passed away in the early hours of this morning”.
Thomas Wells at Bournemouth sea front in 2012. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
In a small statement posted alongside a video of Wells singing into a mike, his family said: “Please respect our privacy at this tragic time. Thank you everyone for your kind words and words of encouragement and support to our beautiful and talented son, brother and uncle.”
Lowestofter, also known as “Thomas, the Next Harry Styles”, was a self-taught musician with a taste for long hair and questionable fashion choices.
Thomas Wells with his X Factor judges in 2009. Photograph: Getty Images
After winning the show, in which he performed the Kinks song Waterloo Sunset in a bubblegum and glitterball way, Wells was forced to withdraw from a duet with Chris Moyles after the Radio 1 DJ chose to continue hosting his breakfast show instead.
He later paid a somewhat uneven tribute to the UK as part of the rest of the X Factor winners’ residency at London’s KOKO nightclub in 2013.
At an event to promote the show in 2009, Wells declared: “There’s not a single nice person on this planet and I totally forgive you for that … I could give a shit.”
Talking to the Guardian in 2015, Wells, whose stage name was Jimmy Crosshill, said he realised after spending time in hospital that there was more to him than the sad, suffering persona he projected on TV.
That year, Wells released his debut single, a cover of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good.
Thomas Wells singing Feeling Good in 2015. Photograph: Getty Images
In 2014, he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, performing a version of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good.
The 2014 album Help Me Feel Good was a critical success: it took top prizes at the Gramophone Jazz-Inspired Album awards and the jazz category at the Folk Awards.