19-Year-Old With Rare Disease Fights For His Dream On ‘Idol’

YouTube / American Idol

When he was just a young boy, this aspiring singer was diagnosed with not only one but two serious health diseases – one which is a very rare condition that left him in debilitating pain.

Now 19, this young man from Santa Barbara, California has made incredible strides in his battle against these health complications and is dead-set on pursuing his dream. American Idol was one of the first steps towards that.


Jackson Gillies was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a child and was already dealing with the struggle from that when, in his early teen years, he developed massive abscesses on his legs – large and incredibly painful.

In the package segment of his American Idol audition, Gillies says that they hurt so bad he couldn’t even walk and was bedridden for quite some time.


Now, he’s figured out how to manage the rare skin disease (hidradenitis suppurativa) and has to follow a strict diet regimen along with staying in a more arid climate like California. He doesn’t drink, do drugs, and cannot even take basic pain medications without the risk of triggering his disease.

But, with the lifestyle treatment, he’s using to manage the disease, it has allowed him to continue pursuing his dreams and has even found mentorship with the famous Kenny Loggins.

An interview with local news publication NoozHawk, they explain that he grew up listening to rock and folk legends like The Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and others.

While he’s performed alongside people like Loggins, and Jim Messina, he says that his Idol audition was the big one he got nervous for.


Immediately after walking out into the audition space in front of judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry, they were taken with his warm personality and pleasant demeanor.

Surprising to Perry, Gilles explained that they’d met a few years prior at a very special benefit concert in their shared hometown of Santa Barbara. This got her even more excited – and immediately following his performance of folk singer Foy Vance’s “Make it Rain,” she was his biggest fan!

Watch the full segment featuring this talented teenager below and hear the magic of his voice…