Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee outlasted Chris Daughtry on "American Idol," but the rocker has earned the same prize nonetheless.
The fourth-place finisher has signed with 19 Recordings/ RCA Records, the same label as McPhee and the same label family as Hicks (J Records).
Daughtry's album, which he's already started recording with some big-name collaborators, is due in late 2006, according to his label's publicist. He will form a permanent band, but no word yet if it will include members of his pre-"Idol" group, Absent Element.
After Daughtry's shocking elimination (see "Daughtry On Elimination: 'I Wasn't Going To Pretend To Be Happy' "), Fuel — whose "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" Daughtry performed on the show to wide acclaim — offered him a job as their new singer, but he later declined.
"It's one of those things where I'm really going to have to sit down and weigh out the pros and cons of each situation," he said at the time. "And I've got to think about it long-term, more than just right now.
"I'm a songwriter myself, so to be able to launch my own career would be my dream and be able to write my own music and have a successful career selling out stadiums doing my own thing," he added. "I have to be very careful of what I choose to do because I don't want to make a rash decision and regret it later."
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Daughtry's solo signing comes after the singer's rendition of Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" debuted at #43 on Billboard's Hot 100 and #16 on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks, the first song from an "Idol" compilation to chart that high (see "Forget The Competition — 'Idol' Top 12 Unite For 'Encore' Comp").
Daughtry is the first fourth-place finisher since first-season finalist Tamyra Gray to sign with a major label; she was later dropped. John Stevens, the red-headed crooner who finished sixth in the third season, released an album last year on Maverick Records.