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Area teenager meets his 'Idol'

Mar. 8, 2012

PATASKALA -- A local teenager got to meet his idol -- a real life "American Idol" at that.

The teen, a special needs student at Watkins Memorial High School, met "American Idol" finalist James Durbin on Feb. 17 in Lancaster.

Durbin performed at a WNCI 97.9-sponsored concert at Mickey's, and Watkins senior Dylan King, 18, was there with his father, Gary.

The duo made the trip south to Lancaster because Dylan King wanted to meet Durbin. His father was focused on making it happen, but for a brief moment it appeared it would not.

Durbin, who placed fourth on the 10th season of the popular talent contest, sat down after his acoustic set to sign autographs. The Kings got in a line that snaked around a corner of the venue's interior, but before they could even make it close to the autograph table, an incident involving an unruly fan prompted Durbin to leave.

"I was depressed when I didn't get to see him at first," said Dylan King, who has Asperger's syndrome.

Dylan King had cheered for Durbin throughout his appearance on "American Idol," in part because Durbin suffers from Tourette's syndrome and Asperger's syndrome, a disorder with certain similarities to autism.

People diagnosed with Asperger's sometimes struggle to socialize with others, and they can develop repetitive behaviors and focus their interest on a few select areas.
Dylan King, for his part, can memorize the lyrics to a song after just one listen, his father said, but the teenager struggles to read. He also can remember the exact directions to a far-off roadtrip destination after making just one trip to the spot.

The teenager's initial disappointment at not being able to meet one of his idols passed quickly on Feb. 17, thanks to a security guard from WNCI who told him he could meet Durbin outside the venue.

Soon after, Dylan King and his dad were standing inside Durbin's motor home, face to face with the "American Idol" finalist, who just released his first album, "Memories of a Beautiful Disaster."

Dylan King, who had voted many times for Durbin when he had appeared on the popular television show and had dressed up as him for Halloween, got to talk to the singer.

The teenager wore a scarf around his belt and a Durbin T-shirt to the concert, and the singer, who was wearing a scarf of his own, complimented Dylan King on his scarf. He also signed a copy of his new CD, writing "You rock Dylan," and posed for pictures with the teenager.

"My son just had a smile that I'll never forget," Gary King said.

Dylan King's enthusiasm did not wane when he left the trailer.

"He was jumping all the way back to my truck when we left," Gary King said.

--Chad Klimack