If American Idol viewers think they've seen all there is to see with contestants' emotional backstories on the long-running Fox series, Wednesday night's audition round sure proved otherwise.
San Francisco contestant James Durbin, 21, performed last on the final audition episode and detailed his pre-show background as a musician who suffers from Tourette syndrome and Asperger's Disorder, a high-functioning form of autism.
"People say I get my musical talent from my dad, but I'll never know," said Durbin, who lost his father to a drug overdose when he was nine years old. Durbin later admitted that he and his girlfriend, Heidi, are struggling to make ends meet while raising their toddler son. "We're living right now in a place with the cheapest rent. I don't have a job and we're doing what we can to get by. There's times when we can't even afford to get diapers."
When Durbin stepped into the audition room, he launched into a rendition of Led Zeppelin's "You Shook Me," before requesting judge Steven Tyler's permission to cover Aerosmith's "Dream On."
"That was so over the top," Tyler, 62, told Durbin, who offered vocals reminiscent of Idol's season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert. "My God, what a range," added Randy Jackson. "And that's full voice, not falsetto. That's crazy."
"To hear Steven Tyler approve of me singing one of his songs is unbelievable," Durbin said after earning a ticket to Hollywood.
Watch Durbin's audition above and follow his progress as American Idol's Hollywood Week round starts Thursday at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox.
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