A Rockapaedia Obituary

Luther Vandross

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Luther Vandross died aged fifty-four on 1st July 200photo of Luther Vandross5 at the JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, U.S.A. Luther's funeral was held at Riverside Church in New York City on 8th July 2005. Cissy Houston, founding member of The Sweet Inspirations and mother of Whitney Houston, sang at the funeral service. Luther Luther Vandross was buried at the George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey. He was survived by his mother, Mary Ida Luther Vandross. His estate left an undisclosed major gift to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Luther Vandross had suffered from diabetes and hypertension. During April 2003, he suffered a severe stroke at his home in New York City and was in a coma for almost two months. The stroke impaired his ability to speak and sing and forced him to use a wheelchair.
At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Luther Vandross appeared in a pre-taped video recording to accept his Song of the Year Award for "Dance with My Father". His mother, Mary, accepted the award in person on his behalf. His last public appearance was on 6th May 2004 on The Oprah Winfrey tv Show. Luther never married and had no known children and his elder siblings all predeceased him.
Luther Vandross's sexual orientation was a subject of media speculation. It was written that: though he never came out as gay, bisexual, or even straight, you had to be wearing blinders—as many of his fans, particularly female, must have been, to overlook his queerness. According to Gene Davis, a television producer who worked with Luther, that everybody in the business knew that Luther was gay. A friend and colleague of Luther Vandross, told Out magazine that Luther Vandross experienced his longest romantic relationship with a man while living in Los Angeles during the late 1980s and early 1990s. In December 2017, his friend Patti LaBelle confirmed that Luther Vandross was in fact gay, but struggled to come out of the closet.
Luther Vandross was born on April 20th, 1951, at Bellevue Hospital, in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, U.S.A. He was the fourth child and second son of Mary Vandross and Luther Vandross, Sr. His father was an upholsterer and singer, and his mother was a nurse. Luther Vandross was raised in Manhattan's Lower East Side in the NYCHA Alfred E. Smith Houses public housing development. At the age of three, having his own phonograph, Luther Vandross taught himself to play the piano by ear.
Luther Vandross's father died of diabetes when Luther Vandross was eight years old. In 2003, Luther Vandross wrote the song "Dance with My Father" and dedicated it to him; the title was based on his childhood memories and his mother's recollections of the family singing and dancing in the house. His family moved to the Bronx when he was nine. His sisters, Patricia "Pat" and Ann began taking Luther Vandross to the Apollo Theater and to a theater in Brooklyn to see Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. Patricia sang with the vocal group 'The Crests' and was featured on the songs "My Juanita" and "Sweetest One".
Luther Vandross graduated from William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx in 1969, and attended Western Michigan University for a year before dropping out to continue pursuing a career in music.
While in high school, Luther Vandross founded the first Patti LaBelle fan club, of which he was president. He also performed in a group, Shades of Jade, that once played at the Apollo Theater. During his early years in show business he appeared several times at the Apollo's famous amateur night. While a member of a theater workshop, Listen My Brother, he was involved in the singles "Only Love Can Make a Better World" and "Listen My Brother". He appeared with the group in several episodes of the first season of Sesame Street during 1969–1970.
Luther Vandross added backing vocals to Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway in 1972, and worked on Delores Hall's Hall-Mark album . He sang with her on the song "Who's Gonna Make It Easier for Me", which he wrote, and he contributed another song, "In This Lonely Hour". Having co-written "Fascination" for David Bowie's Young Americans in1975, he went on to tour with him as a back-up vocalist in September 1974. Luther Vandross wrote "Everybody Rejoice" for the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz.
Luther Vandross also sang backing vocals for artists including Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Ben E. King, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, and Donna Summer, and for the bands Chic and Todd Rundgren's Utopia.
Before his solo breakthrough, Luther Vandross was part of a singing quintet in the late 1970s named Luther. Although the singles "It's Good for the Soul", "Funky Music", and "The Second Time Around" were relatively successful, their two albums, the self-titled Luther in1976 and This Close to You in 1977 did not sell enough to make the charts. Luther Vandross bought back the rights to those albums after Cotillion dropped the group, preventing them from being re-released.
Luther Vandross also wrote and sang commercial jingles from 1977 until the early 1980s, for companies including NBC, Mountain Dew, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, and Juicy Fruit. He continued his successful career as a popular session singer during the late 1970s. He also played Jamison in the 1993 film The Meteor Man.
In nineteen-seventy-eight, Luther Vandross sang lead vocals for Greg Diamond's disco band, Bionic Boogie, on the song titled "Hot Butterfly". Also in nineteen-seventy-eight, he appeared on Quincy Jones's Sounds...and Stuff Like That!!, most notably on the song "I'm Gonna Miss You in the Morning" along with Patti Austin. Luther Vandross also sang with the band Soirée and was the lead vocalist on the track "You Are the Sunshine of My Life"; he also contributed background vocals to the album along with Jocelyn Brown and Sharon Redd, each of whom also saw solo success. Additionally, he sang the lead vocals on the group Mascara's LP title song "See You in L.A." released in 1979. Luther Vandross also appeared on the group Charme's 1979 album Let It In.
Luther Vandross made his career breakthrough as a featured singer with the vaunted pop-dance act Change, a studio concept created by French-Italian businessman Jacques Fred Petrus. Their 1980 hits, "The Glow of Love" and "Searching", featured Luther Vandross as the lead singer. In a 2001 interview with Vibe, Luther Vandross said "The Glow of Love" was the most beautiful song he had ever sung in his life. Both songs were from Change's debut album, The Glow of Love.
Luther Vandross was originally intended to perform on their second and highly successful album Miracles in 1981, but declined the offer as Petrus didn't pay enough money. Luther Vandross' decision led to a recording contract with Epic Records that same year, but he also provided background vocals on "Miracles" and on the new Petrus-created act, the B. B. & Q. Band in 1981. During that hectic year Luther Vandross jump-started his second attempt at a solo career with his debut album, Never Too Much. In addition to the hit title track it contained a version of the Dionne Warwick song "A House Is Not a Home".
The song "Never Too Much", written by himself, reached number-one on the rythm&blues charts. This period also marked the beginning of songwriting collaboration with bassist Marcus Miller, who played on many of the tracks and would also produce or co-produce a number of tracks for Luther Vandross. The Never Too Much album was arranged by Luther Vandross's high school classmate Nat Adderley, Jr., a collaboration that would last through Luther Vandross's entire career.
Luther Vandross released a series of successful rythm&blues albums during the 1980s and continued his session work with guest vocals on groups like Charme in 1982. Many of his earlier albums made a bigger impact on the rythm&blues charts than on the pop charts. During the 1980s, two of Luther Vandross' singles reached number 1 on the Billboard rythm&blues charts: "Stop to Love", in 1986, and a duet with Gregory Hines—"There's Nothing Better Than Love." Luther Vandross was at the helm as producer for Aretha Franklin's Gold-certified, award-winning comeback album Jump to It. He also produced the follow-up album, 1983's Get It Right.
In 1983, the opportunity to work with his main musical influence, Dionne Warwick, came about with Luther Vandross producing, writing songs, and singing on How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye, her fourth album for Arista Records. The title track duet reached number 27 on the Hot 100 chart , while the second single, "Got a Date" was a moderate hit.
Luther Vandross wrote and produced "It's Hard for Me to Say" for Diana Ross from her Red Hot Rhythm & Blues album. Ross performed the song as an a cappella tribute to Oprah Winfrey on her final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show. She then proceeded to add it to her successful 2010–12 "More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour. Luther Vandross also recorded a version of this song on his Your Secret Love album in 1996. He made two public appearances at Diana Ross's Return to Love Tour: at its opening in Philadelphia at First Union Spectrum and its final stop at Madison Square Garden in July, 2000.
In December 1985, Luther Vandross filed a libel suit against a British magazine after it attributed his 85-pound weight loss to AIDS. He had weighed 325 pounds when he started a diet in May that year.
In 1985, Luther Vandross first spotted the talent of Jimmy Salvemini, who was fifteen at the time, on Star Search. He thought Salvemini had the perfect voice for some of his songs, and contacted him. He was managed by his brother, Larry Salvemini. A contract was negotiated with Elektra Records for two hundred & fifty thousand dollars and Luther Vandross agreed to produce the album. He contacted his old friends - Cheryl Lynn, Alfa Anderson, Phoebe Snow and Irene Cara - to appear on the record. After the album was completed, Luther, Jimmy, and Larry decided to celebrate. On 12th January 1986, they were riding in Luther Vandross's 1985 convertible Mercedes-Benz on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, in the north section of Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. Luther was driving at 48 mph in a 35 mph zone when his Mercedes veered across the double yellow center line of the two lane street, turned sideways and collided with the front of a 1972 Mercury Marquis that was headed southbound, then swung around and hit a 1979 Cadillac Seville head on. Luther Vandross and Jimmy were rushed to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Larry, who was in the passenger seat, was killed during the collision. Luther Vandross suffered three broken ribs, a broken hip, several bruises and facial cuts. Jimmy, who was in the back of the car, had cuts, bruises and contusions. Luther Vandross faced vehicular manslaughter charges as a result of Larry's death, and his driving license was suspended for a year. There was no evidence Luther Vandross was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; he pleaded no contest to reckless driving. At first, the Salvemini family was supportive of Luther Vandross, but later filed a wrongful death suit against him. The case was settled out of court with a payment to the Salvemini family for about $630,000. Jimmy Salvemini's album, Roll It, was released later that year.
Luther Vandross also sang the ad-libs and background vocals in Stevie Wonder's 1985 hit "Part-Time Lover". In 1986, he voiced a cartoon character named Zack for ABC's Zack of All Trades, a three Saturday morning animated PSA spots.
The 1989 compilation album The Best of Luther Luther Vandross... The Best of Love included the ballad "Here and Now", his first single to chart in the Billboard pop chart top ten, peaking at number six. He won his first Grammy award for Best Male rythm&blues Vocal Performance in 1991.
In 1990, Luther Vandross wrote, produced and sang background for Whitney Houston in a song entitled "Who Do You Love" which appeared on her I'm Your Baby Tonight album. That year, he guest starred on the television sitcom 227.
More albums followed in the 1990s, beginning with 1991's Power of Love which spawned two top ten pop hits. He won his second Best Male rythm&blues Vocal in the Grammy Awards of 1992, and his track "Power of Love/Love Power" won the Grammy Award for Best rythm&blues Song in the same year. In 1992, "The Best Things in Life Are Free", a duet with Janet Jackson from the movie Mo' Money became a hit. In 1993, he had a brief non-speaking role in the Robert Townsend movie The Meteor Man. He played a hit man who plotted to stop Townsend's title character.
Luther Vandross hit the top ten again in 1994, teaming with Mariah Carey on a cover version of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's duet "Endless Love". It was included on the album Songs, a collection of songs which had inspired Luther Vandross over the years. He also appears on "The Lady Is a Tramp" released on Frank Sinatra's Duets album. At the Grammy Awards of 1997, he won his third Best Male rythm&blues Vocal for the track "Your Secret Love".
A second greatest hits album, released in 1997, compiled most of his 1990s hits and was his final album released through Epic Records. After releasing I Know on Virgin Records, he signed with J Records. His first album on Clive Davis's new label, entitled Luther Luther Vandross, was released in 2001, and it produced the hits "Take You Out" , and "I'd Rather" . Luther Vandross scored at least one top 10 rythm&blues hit every year from 1981 untill 1994.image of Luther Vandross
In 1997, Luther Vandross sang the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", during Super Bowl XXXI at the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana.
In September 2001, Luther Vandross performed a rendition of Michael Jackson's hit song "Man in the Mirror" at Jackson's 30th Anniversary special, alongside Usher and 98 Degrees.
In 2002, he performed his final concerts during his last tour, The BK Got Soul Tour starring Luther Vandross featuring Angie Stone and Gerald Levert.

In 2003, Luther Vandross released the album Dance with My Father. It sold 442,000 copies in the first week and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. The title track of the same name, which was dedicated to Luther Vandross' childhood memories of dancing with his father, won Luther Vandross and his co-writer, Richard Marx, the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The song also won Luther Vandross his fourth and final award in the Best Male rythm&blues Vocal Performance category. The album was his only career number 1 on the Billboard album chart. The video for the title track features various celebrities alongside their fathers and other family members. The second single released from the album, "Think About You", was the Number One Urban Adult Contemporary Song of 2004 according to Radio & Records.
In 2003, after the televised NCAA Men's Basketball championship, CBS Sports gave "One Shining Moment" a new look. Luther Vandross, who had been to only one basketball game in his life, was the new singer, and the video had none of the special effects, like glowing basketballs and star trails, that videos from previous years had.

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song:'I Really Didn't Mean It' by Luther Vandross