Luther Vandross born 20 April 1951 (d. 2005)
Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr was probably the greatest male R&B singer of his generation. During his career, Vandross sold 25 million albums and won eight Grammys including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four times. He won four Grammy awards in 2004 including the Grammy for Song of the Year for the track Dance With My Father.
Initially content to remain in the background as a backing singer and producer - he toured with David Bowie in 1974 and sang backing vocals on the Young Americans (1975) album - Vandross was encouraged to take centre stage by Roberta Flack, who thought he had a unique talent.
His breakthrough to major chart success came as lead singer with Change, and he went on to have a string of million selling hit solo albums, and successful collaborations with other artists, throughout the 80s and 90s.
During Vandross' entire career he was 'dogged' by questions regarding his sexuality. He never married, his name was never romantically linked in the media with women. Although Vandross never explicitly denied being gay, he never publicly acknowledged it either. He generally fielded questions by saying that his 'busy lifestyle' made marriage difficult and indicated that, in any case, 'it was not what he wanted.' Many gay publications have stated that Vandross' gayness was an 'open secret' in the music business, but even now it is rarely spoken of.
Vandross had diabetes, a disease that ran in his family, as well as hypertension. His weight fluctuated wildly throughout his career. His father, Luther Sr, died of complications from diabetes when Luther Jr. was eight years old. Luther Jr.'s two sisters and a brother also predeceased him. In 2003 Vandross suffered a stroke at his home in Manhattan. Although he appeared briefly on video at the 2004 Grammys to accept his Song of the Year award, he was otherwise never seen in public again. On the videotape on which Vandross appeared he sent an emotional message that said: 'Whenever I say goodbye it's never for long because I believe in the power of love.'
Vandross died in hospital on 1 July 2005 . He was just 54 years old and reportedly had never fully recovered from the 2003 stroke. It was reported that he died peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends.
Popular Themes and Searches
Academics Activists Actors Architects Aristocrats Artists Ballet Beat Generation Bisexuals Broadcasters Broadway Businessmen Choreographers Classical Music Comedians Composers Critics Dancers Death by suicide Death from HIV/Aids DJs Drag Fashion Designers Female Impersonators Film Film Directors Hollywood Illustrators Journalists Leftfield/Avant-Garde Military Men Musical Theatre Musicians Novelists Olympic Medalists Oscar Wilde Painters Photographers Playwrights Poets Politicians Popular Music Porn Stars Radio Screenwriters Singers Songwriters Sportsmen Television Theatre Theatre Directors Tony Award winners Victorians World War 2 World War I Writers