Smith, who memorably donned a disco-fabulous Afro wig for a performance of Earth Wind and Fire’s “Let’s Groove” and wound up finishing eighth behind Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, was 36.
He was also known for smiling and chanting “Hercules! Hercules!” during his run on the show.
According to TMZ, Smith’s vehicle was hit head-on by another car traveling the wrong way down Oklahoma’s I-240. That driver was booked for DUI.
Several of Smith’s Idol compatriots took to social media to express their sadness over his passing:
As I sit here in utter disbelief about the fact that you went to be with the Lord. I think back on all the fun times we had. How we set up for hours in our room in the Idol Mansion talking and listening to music. How much fun we all had on our very first tour. You were the heart of our season and the true definition of a real friend.. I will miss you my Friend RIP Ricky Smith. I'm sure you're in heaven singing you're heart out!!!
Watch Smith’s Country Week performance of “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today” — as well as a duet with Season 6’s Melinda Doolittle on “You’re All I Need to Get By” — below, then share your own memories in the comments.