David Roland Cook (born December 20, 1982) is an American rock singer-songwriter, who rose to fame after winning the seventh season of the reality television show American Idol. Prior to Idol he released an independent album entitled Analog Heart, followed by his post-Idol major-label debut David Cook which was released on November 18, 2008 and has since been certified platinum by the RIAA. His second major album This Loud Morning was released on June 28, 2011. Early life Cook was born in Houston, Texas, raised in Blue Springs, Missouri, and currently owns homes in Kansas City, Missouri and Nashville, Tennessee. His parents are Beth Foraker (née Frye) and Stanley Cook. He is the middle of three brothers – the late Adam Cook being older and Andrew younger. He is of German, Irish, and English descent. Cook's interest in music began at a young age. He began singing in second grade, when his elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Gentry, gave him a part in a school Christmas performance. He proceeded to perform in virtually every Christmas and PTA program. He received his first guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, at the age of 13. He also participated in choir and drama programs in middle school and high school. At Blue Springs South High School, he performed in musicals, including The Music Man, West Side Story, and Singin' in the Rain. In addition to this, he was an active member in the Blue Springs South High School National Forensics League (or NFL), where he qualified for the national tournament twice for duo interpretation, an event that relies on performance and interpretation of a literary work. He was also an avid baseball player (pitcher) during high school and once gave up a home run to Albert Pujols in an American Legion Baseball game. After an injury, he focused more on music. He earned a theater scholarship to the University of Central Missouri, but he abandoned theater after two semesters, graduating from the school in 2006 with a degree in graphic design. While in college, he was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa. After his college graduation, he relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma to pursue a career in music, telling his mother, "I just want to give myself until I'm 26 years old to get a job." Early music career David Cook formed a band with his friend Bobby Kerr while at high school. The band was initially named Red Eye, later changed to Axium. He wrote his first song, titled "Red Hot", when he was fifteen. He was encouraged by Evan Sula-Goff of 8stops7 to make an album when he went to Cook's school to judge a contest, Mr. Jaguar, where David Cook and his band performed Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City". The band had some success when one of their songs, "Hold", was selected to be played in movie theaters across the country, and they were named one of the top 15 independent bands in the country by "Got Milk?" contest as well as the best Kansas City band in 2004. The band produced three studio albums – Matter of Time, Blindsided, and The Story Thus Far, as well as a number of live albums including Alive in Tulsa. Axium however broke up in 2006 and David Cook moved to Tulsa where he joined Midwest Kings, a band he once opened for. He was the bassist for their EP Incoherent With Desire to Move On. Members of that band Andy Skib and Neal Tiemann later became part of David Cook's post-Idol band The Anthemic. He recorded and self-released a solo album Analog Heart in 2006. He had also recorded his second solo album (unreleased) prior to appearing on Idol, and was working as a bartender to support himself. American Idol Overview Cook originally did not plan to try out for the show. He went to the auditions in Omaha, Nebraska initially to support his younger brother (who did not make it to Hollywood) and then, prompted by mother and brother when a show producer noticed him, David auditioned himself. He performed Bon Jovi's "Livin' On a Prayer" for his audition. For his first Hollywood audition, Cook performed "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. On the second song in Hollywood, he sang "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain. Cook took advantage of the decision to allow contestants to play musical instruments. Besides his Hollywood audition, he also accompanied himself on electric guitar for his performances of "All Right Now", "Hello", "Day Tripper", "I'm Alive", "Baba O'Riley", "Dare You to Move", and "Dream Big", and on acoustic guitar for "Little Sparrow", "All I Really Need Is You", and "The World I Know". His white, left-handed Gibson Les Paul electric guitar has the letters "AC" on it; as Cook told TV Guide, "I have two brothers, Adam and Andrew. So, because of superstition, I put their initials on everything growing up." Starting from the Top 12 week, he also wore (and continues to wear) an orange wristband to support a 7-year-old fan, Lindsey Rose, with leukemia. Another of Cook's performances, The Beatles' "Day Tripper", was credited to Whitesnake. Seattle-based band Doxology has claimed that Cook's performance of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" was based on a version the band recorded over a year ago. On April 1, before performing his self-arranged rendition of Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow" on American Idol, Cook told Ryan Seacrest in the interview session that his performance of "Eleanor Rigby" was based on Neil Zaza's and Doxology's versions. He also reiterated the credits of Whitesnake and Chris Cornell. Despite the controversy, critics praised Cook for choosing versions of songs that fit his vocal style. Cook's arrangements of "Happy Together", "Hello", "Little Sparrow", "Always Be My Baby", "All I Really Need Is You", "Baba O'Riley", "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", "Dream Big" and "The World I Know" were original arrangements. Cook won the seventh season of American Idol on May 21, 2008, receiving 56 percent of the votes, with 12 million votes over David Archuleta, the runner-up. Cook then sang "The Time of My Life", the winning song of the 2008 American Idol Songwriter's Competition. In the final tally, Archuleta received 44 percent of the votes. During the final show, identical commercials promoting Guitar Hero featured Cook and fellow finalist Archuleta mimicked the Tom Cruise scene from Risky Business where he dances in his underwear playing an air guitar.