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Luther Vandross

Luther VandrossAKA Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr.

Born: 20-Apr-1951
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 1-Jul-2005
Location of death: Edison, NJ
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, George Washington Memorial Park, Paramus, NJ

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Matter of Dispute
Occupation: Singer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: R&B Singer, Never Too Much

Born in Brooklyn to a family with a strong tradition of gospel and soul singing, Luther Ronzoni Vandross was immersed in a musical environment from the beginning days of his life. By the time of his high school years he had formed his own soul group, and afterwards participated in Listen My Brother, a music workshop created by a booking agent for the Apollo Theater also including Carlos Alomar (who would later establish himself as a guitarist for David Bowie) and future members of the band Chic. Through the workshop, the aspiring musicians were provided an opportunity to perform at the Apollo as an opening act for better-known artists.

In the 1970s Vandross took a short hiatus from the music industry, but was brought back into action by an invitation from his former bandmate Carlos Alomar. By this time Alomar had already hooked up with Bowie, who was beginning work on his Philly soul-inspired album Young Americans; Bowie, impressed with Vandross' talents, enlisted him as an arranger and performer for the album's backing vocals, and afterwards took him on as an opening act for the associated tour. The tour's exposure subsequently led to session work for other artists (such as Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, and Ringo Starr), which in turn resulted in a contract as a solo performer on Cotillion Records. The singer released two albums through the label in 1976 - Luther and Close To You - but neither fared particularly well, being mired in the disco trends of the time. Temporarily deterred from his solo career by this setback, Vandross returned to session work for the remainder of the decade.

As the 1980s approached, Vandross' primary means of income had become the composition and performance of advertising jingles for television. Recording work for Quincy Jones, Sister Sledge and others kept his industry reputation alive, and a contribution to the Broadway musical and film The Wiz - an all-black, R&B adaptation of The Wizard Of Oz - helped to establish him once again in the public consciousness. With the band Change he recorded the album The Glow Of Love (1980), which resulted in two top 20 songs in the British R&B charts. A second shot at a solo career was then made through Epic and the 1981 release Never too Much, an album that emphasized a romantic style better suited to his voice than the earlier disco material; the single of the title track quickly reached the #1 slot on the R&B charts, and the album itself would eventually earn double platinum sales status.

Throughout the 1980s Luther Vandross continued to further his popularity - crossing over into the pop charts, establishing a parallel career as a producer, and releasing a series of popular duets with other artists (If This World Were Mine with Cheryl Lynn, How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye with Dionne Warwick, and There's Nothing Better Than Love with Gregory Hines). In the 1990s the singer's catalogue of charting duets continued with Janet Jackson (The Best Things In Life Are Free (1992)) and Mariah Carey (a remake of Endless Love (1994)), but by the mid-90s the singer's all-important sales figures had begun to wane. A move from Epic to EMI was quickly followed by another move to J Records, resulting first in 2001's Luther Vandross and then in the album that returned him to the top of the charts, Dance With My Father (2003). Just prior to this renewed popularity, however, the singer suffered a severe stroke that kept him hospitalized for two months.

Father: Luther Vandross, Sr. (d., diabetes)
Mother: Mary Vandross

    Luther Vandross
    Roberta Flack Vocalist (1972, 1978, 1980)
    The Brecker Brothers Vocalist (1975, 1980)
    David Bowie Vocalist (1975)
    Dionne Warwick Vocalist
    Sister Sledge Vocalist
    Cher Vocalist
    David Sanborn Vocalist (1975, 1982)
    Quincy Jones Vocalist (1969, 1978, 1989, 1999)
    Judy Collins Vocalist (1976)
    Andy Pratt Vocalist (1976, 1977)
    Bette Midler Vocalist (1976, 1979, 1980)
    Roy Buchanan Vocalist (1976)
    Chic Vocalist (1977-79)
    Nils Lofgren Vocalist (1977)
    J. Geils Band Vocalist (1977, 1980)
    Ringo Starr Vocalist (1977)
    Cat Stevens Vocalist (1978)
    Carly Simon Vocalist (1978, 1985)
    Odyssey Vocalist (1978)
    Norma Jean Wright Vocalist (1978)
    Garland Jefferies Vocalist (1978)
    T. Life Vocalist (1978)
    Carole Bayer Sager Vocalist (1978)
    Average White Band Vocalist (1979)
    Change Vocalist (1980-81)
    Cissy Houston Vocalist (1980)
    Mtume Vocalist (1980)
    Chaka Khan Vocalist (1980)
    Irene Cara Vocalist (1982)
    Diana Ross Vocalist (1982, 1987, 2000)
    Kleeer Vocalist (1982)
    Aretha Franklin Vocalist (1982, 1983, 1991)
    James Ingram Vocalist (1983)
    Teddy Pendergrass Vocalist (1984)
    Patti Austin Vocalist (1985, 1988)
    Stevie Wonder Vocalist (1985)
    The Temptations Vocalist (1985)
    Cheryl Lynn Vocalist (1987)
    Barbra Streisand Vocalist (1988)
    Whitney Houston Vocalist (1990)
    Patti Labelle Vocalist (1991)
    Richard Marx Vocalist (1991, 1994, 1997)
    Roxy Music Vocalist (1995)
    Money B Vocalist (1996)
    Natalie Cole Vocalist (1999)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male (1990)
    Grammy Best Rhythm & Blues Song (1991)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male (1991)
    Grammy Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (1996)
    Grammy Best R&B Album (2003)
    Grammy Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (2003) (with Beyonce Knowles)
    Grammy Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (2003)
    Grammy Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (2003)
    Grammy Song Of The Year (2003)
    Wedding: David Gest and Liza Minnelli (2002)
    Stroke 16-Apr-2003
    Coma Apr-2003 (approximately one month)
    Vehicular Manslaughter killed Larry Salvemini, three-car collision, Hollywood, CA (12-Jan-1986)
    Risk Factors: Obesity, Diabetes, Meningitis

    The Meteor Man (6-Aug-1993)

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