Casey James Calls 'American Idol' Duet With Bret Michaels 'An Honor'

'After the stuff I had been through with my motorcycle wreck, we immediately hit it off,' James says of Poison frontman.

Casey James is still riding high since finishing third on "American Idol," but his favorite moment on the show actually occurred after he'd been given the boot: his finale-night performance with Bret Michaels.

Their surprise duet on the Poison classic "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" was a highlight of the show, especially given the myriad health scares Michaels had survived in recent months. But that's only part of the reason James will always remember the moment. Turns out, he was unaware that he'd be performing with Michaels until 48 hours before the show aired.

"Well, they give us the songs, and they say, 'This is the song you're going to be doing, you're going to be doing a duet,' and I see the song and I'm like, 'Why are you having me do this song? I know Bret Michaels is ill, so who are they gonna have sing the song with me?' I was just very confused," James told MTV News. "Then, I think it was two days before the show — Bret Michaels, [producers] were calling him 'rock star,' that was, like, the code name for the guy I was playing with — and so they said, 'Rock star wants to see you.' And I'm like, 'OK, so I'm gonna meet the dude, or the female, or whoever it is that I'm doing the song with,' and I walked in and there he is, and I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' "

James said he was in awe of the Poison frontman at first, but the two quickly bonded ... over their respective near-death experiences, oddly enough.

"He's an amazing dude, and I think it says a lot about him, what the music does for him ... it's just unbelievable. And after the stuff that I had been through with my motorcycle wreck [in 2004], we just kind of immediately hit it off," James explained. "And for him to be coming back, and for me to be on the stage when that happened? I mean, what an honor. I'll never forget it for the rest of my life."

And though their on-air performance was certainly one for the "Idol" history books, James said that the duo's rehearsals were even more memorable, allowing him to fulfill a lifelong dream to jam with one of his musical idols.

"We had a lot of fun in rehearsals, we were laughing and playing," he said. "The coolest thing was when I first met him and we just immediately started jamming, and we were trying to figure out the arrangement for the song and the amount of time we had ... it was great. He's the nicest guy ever."

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