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April 29, 2004: WNY’s 'American Idol' booted

It has been 10 years since Amherst teen John Stevens was voted off  Fox's "American Idol."  A decade later, you may remember the red-headed crooner who went on to become a member of the Beantown Swing Orchestra, but do you remember the controversy on what was then among the most popular TV shows in America?

Judge Simon Cowell said Stevens took "every bullet ... like a man." Both Dale Anderson and Alan Pergament wrote about Stevens' final appearance on "Idol" in Gusto 10 years ago. Since then, Stevens has continued singing in the same style that gained him the unique combination of praise and dissension on Fox.

"The 16-year-old crooner from East Amherst, who reached the final six in Fox's live televised talent competition despite weeks of unflattering vocal assignments, sour comments from the judges and howls of protest from music critics across the nation, finally was voted off the show."

"Simon Cowell is labeled the cruel judge because of his brutal honesty, but Cowell actually earned my admiration for the way he handled things Tuesday.

"First he credited Stevens for taking 'every bullet' like a man. Even Cowell's crack that Stevens and Latin music go together "like chocolate ice cream and an onion" could be viewed as an acknowledgment that performing Gloria Estefan's music put him at a disadvantage."

More recently, Buffalo native Carlton Smith made the show's final 25 during the 2014 season of "Idol." The 26-year-old spent most of his childhood on Highgate Avenue on the East Side, where his grandmother and sister still live.

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