- Great song. Terrible acting. But a Luther thread should have a fresh Luther joint to get us started!
- There's great footage of him as a young back up singer in the new doc "20 Feet From Stardom." I have to say, once he lost weight and butched it up, it was quite a transformation.
- Not that it fooled anyone though, r2.
I never heard of him in the same level as Oprah, more like a black Elton John, without the English sharp tongue.
- Luther did a remarkable job of keeping his personal life and sexuality secret although everybody knew. Other celebrities went out of there way to protect him, even years after his death there are no stories or lovers that come forth.
- When En Vogue was his opening act back in the day, they referred to him as 'Lucifer.' Poor girls, he scared the ish out of them.
- Highly underrated singer. Many classic R&B hits and a voice like none other. I loved the work he did with the Italian group Change back in the early '80s.
- Always thought A. Baker was overrated as a singer, plus Luther made more efforts to get better singers and musicians for his albums. He was a victim of an overbearing deeply radical religious mother though, just like Whitney. I remember I saw his funeral service on TV, some of the speakers (esp the pastor of his mother)were scary religious nutters. Black churches and homophobia!
- Luther was an amazing singer...ugh I didn't see this thread earlier so I'll repeat the story...
The En Vogue feud. It was about 20 years ago or so when he and En Vogue went on tour together. Apparently some people in the audience were saying that when En Vogue performed on stage, Luther's band was in the way and were blocking them from view. En Vogue then asked that Luther's band be moved off stage when they performed in the future. This made Luther go HAM on them as he felt the request was disrespectful. He stopped direct communication with them, ordered a curtain be drawn between his and their camps, and even had separate eating times.
There is also a story that he had problems when he went on tour with Debarge because of their drug use and partying ways.
- He was incredibly talented.
- omg imagine the shade between these 3!!! YAAAAS
- He had creepy eyes.
- another shady queen posse pic!
- Luther was a spineless queen who took his "secret" to the grave to keep his black fanbase happy.
- He actually looks handsome in r12's pic
- Love it r12! SHADEE!
I dont think the true story of Luther's life will ever get told, its kind of unfortunate. He must have faced incredible adversity, he was black and gay, came from a religious family, and he was a self made star. I feel like he is a overlooked pioneer of gay people in entertainment.
Luther was very depressed, he probably lost most of his gay friends by the 90s. I would be depressed too if I chose to croon to crowds of women every night like I was straight. He loved to sing and share his gift though, so I guess that was more important to him. I hope someone makes a movie about his life one day.
- R6, I LOVE Change too, I consider them slightly better than Chic actually. But Luther's big song with them "Glow Of Love" is pleasant but mediocre imo. "A Lover's Holiday", featuring Jocelyn Brown, is far better. "Paradise" is their other perfect song, a Chic imitation better than its source.
- Aw, leave Luther alone. He was a great star and entertainer.
I always thought this was an autobiographical song about a gay teenager.
- [quote]I always thought this was an autobiographical song about a gay teenager.
- He was once asked what is his favorite summer food. He responded, 'Oh, something light, like a salad.'
Then he said, 'Oh, who am I kidding, my favorite summer food is my favorite any season food: cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger!'
- Give Me the Reason was one of his best songs.
- I could listen to Luther all day-whether solo or in Change. Unfortunately he's become more "forgotten" now but a lot of male singers in their 30s and 40s looked up to him. My fwb is an amazing singer and said Vandross was his inspiration to start performing.
- Will there ever be a "Behind the Candelabra"-type movie about his life?
- Why not a movie about an out and proud singer instead? I think the whole glass-closet Candelabra thing has been covered now.
- r17: I'd believe it. A lot of songs Luther sang had glaring subtext. We are now subjected to many black male singers singing "Superstar" on talent shows only because Luther sang the song. None of them have a clue as to what the song was about: a female groupie pining for a male Rock star. Luther knew that (so did Karen and Richard). When he paired that song with "Until You Come Back To Me", he knew precisely what he was doing.
- And let's not forget "If Only For One Night," where he promises to 'be discreet.' It's a down low anthem.
- R25 I was just about to post that song. I always felt he was sending a message with it.
R16, in Boston the huge hit from the Change album was searchin'! HUGE!
I love Luther. Baby,baby,baby,baby I love you. I really do.
- Unfortunately for Luther, he sabotaged his own legacy by not choosing to live a life as the person he truly was. It wasn't the choice to keep his private life private that keeps his fans speculating, but his avoidance and denial of the subject. How sad, since it only made him seem shameful. Vandross would be considerned a much bigger influence and be credited for his artistry much more than he is today had be been more honest. Instead, he's remembered first for being a closeted queen with all sorts of ridicule and innuendo attached. His diva tantrums and his natural demeanor coupled with his public facade as a ladies man simply made him appear foolish, and by remaining closeted he gave all the speculations power. Publically acknowledging his sexuality would have left it powerless. I've read several stories of his fits (Neil Tennant tells a good one), but we're only talking about this today because he led us to the conversation, and not because he was a demanding unprofessional.
- r29, I think you make some good points, but honestly what other choice did he have, especially being black in the business 30 yrs ago?
Look at the closeting still going on for obvious LGB people in entertainment.
The only thing I would've questioned was the whole "ladies' man" image. He should've done what Paul Newman did--marry a smart beard and be discreet.
- Does anyone know if Luther and Jermaine Stewart knew each other or hung out, or more? I know Luther was a bit older and hung out with the divas while Jermaine hung out with the younger acts at the time so I'm not sure if they would have had a chance to meet.
- R20, I agree GIVE ME THE REASON is a great one. The similar-sounding STOP TO LOVE was another great one.
- [quote]a lot of male singers in their 30s and 40s looked up to him
Yes, and Richard Marx was one of them. Luther and Richard often collaborated, including Luther singing backup on Richard's "Keep Coming Back"
- Loved his duet with Janet for the "Mo' Money" soundtrack--THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE
- Luther wrote and produced Aretha's "Jump To It" single and album
- Luther and the late Gregory Hines dueted on this beautiful ballad
- Luther was unbelievably talented. I don't even know where to start in describing his voice and vocal abilities. Everyone knew Luther was gay. But it seems that some are forgetting that even in 2013 it is still considered career suicide for a male singer or male celebrity in general to come out as gay let alone in the 1980s. I hate that he was mean to En Vogue, though.
- One of Luther's early gigs was singing backup on David Bowie's 'Young Americans,' and IMHO those backup vocals made that song.
- r29, you say he sabotaged his reputation, but when held up against his peers, Luther has one of the better, if not one of the best reputations in the music business. There was no drug abuse, shady business deals, sexual scandal ever in his career. Most people knew Luther was gay, but didn't acknowledge it because he didn't acknowledge it. No one but gossip queens knows about what a diva Luther was and how sad he was behind the scenes.
I would like to hear about some of Luther's blow ups r29, since you seem to know!
- R29 here. I do think being black and being judged by his own community did keep him closeted. I also think business and going where the money was had something to do with it. However, I also think that had Vandross been a bit more resolute he could have had a persona similar to Bowie's, the person Vandross credits with discovering him. No one talks about Bowie's sexuality, wherever it happened to be on the scale at any point in time, because he deflated any interest it may have had with his own veracity. Today David Bowie is considered a genius much before his sexual encounters get mentioned.
- r40: Bowie was a white Rock artist. Luther was a black R&B artist. It wouldn't have worked. We'd like to think it would have, but it wouldn't.
- He did sabotage his reputation by leaving the details of his personal life up to gossip sheets and rumor mills. Good or bad, it was his doing.
- r38: legend has it, Luther made up those backround vocals on the spot. The chorus and the vocal hook of that song didn't exist. Luther made it up.
- And if he did open up his personal life, what do you think would have happened?
- Wow. He had some equally talented singers.
- And why does anyone think that it was up to him to come out as gay? How many male singers or even A list movie stars are openly gay today? I was born in the late 80s so I don't know from personal experience what it was like for gays in the 80s, but from what I've read and have been told, it was pretty difficult. It would have been career suicide for him to have come out as gay in the 1980s. I think some people are drifting away from reality on this issue.
- True to a certain extent,but not entirely. Sylvester was open, enjoyed mainstream success, and is now considered a legend. Reducing this to race is too simple. A person has to take responsibility for their own decisions in their own life at some point. Libarace is a good example on the flip side. White, closeted, and in denial. Today he's viewed as a freak show before what a great entertainer he was. His denial created that. Fair or not, living in that manor hands all the power that those who want to use it against you right over to them.
- He had an incredible voice. When I was a young girl I dreamed of him singing at all my most important events. And no, I never had a crush on him. Of course, I knew he was gay, even then. As is my other favorite male singer, Daryl Coley.
Now that I think about it, 3/4 of my lifelong favorite singers (2 women, 2 men) ended up being either gay or bi, purely by coincidence.
- At the end of the day, people think of Luther's voice an dmusic before anything else-his sexuality, diva attitude, weight etc...
- It may not have have been prudent for him to come out in the 80s, but he did reach a point in his career where he held the reigns. A few years before his stroke had he chosen to do so and quiet all his detractos he'd be considered brave and an inspiration. Sure, he may have lost some supporters, but he would have gained many more, and many of them may never have heard of him before that. That decision may have made it easier for Frank Ocean to come out sooner.
- r29 / r42 = Anita Baker
- I also think Luther didnt come out because he didnt want any attention on the relationships he did have..judging from the music he wrote, Luther loved very hard and didn't get the same love in return a lot of times
- [quote]Highly underrated singer
By who? He's beloved amongst his audience, worshiped even. Always talked about for having a great voice to this day.
I've read that he was a complete bitch. Makes perfect sense - the stress of being closeted, not really happy, often fat due to real eating problems which I'm guessing came from the whole closeted thing.
- Luther's incredible CD 'Songs' had covers of songs by Barbra (Evergreen), Aretha (Since You've Been Gone), Whitney (All The Man ( he sang Woman) I Need), The Supremes (Reflections)and Roberta (Killing Me Softly).
- As infants, Luther and I were nursery roommates, born on the same day in the very same hospital; I like to imagine remembering his newborn cries as being melodious.
RIP old friend.
- R24, how is it humanly possible to listen to the lyrics of "Superstar" and not know what the song is about? Your post doesn't make any sense.
- R39 I remember watching the Dick Cavett Show with David Bowie performing Young American live with vanDross sharing a mic with Mrs. Robin Clark - both looking like they just rolled out of church.
Not Bowie,of course,who was high on heroin and as thin as a rake.
Ava Cherry and Bowie's childhood chum Geoffrey MacCormack wailing away to their left as backup singers as well.
That's all vanDross's backup arrangement... great great hooks...
- Meant to address that last post to R38 not 39...
- Luther singing backup for Bowie is featured prominently in the documentary "Twenty Feet From Stardom" as mentioned upthread.
- Justin Bieber sings better than Vandross. And is a lot hotter
Bowie stole Fascination, which appeared on the same album as Young Americans song from Luther btw.
I hope Luther was at least paid for that. As a thank you Bowie choose not to have him in Videos, because he as a chubby black male was not fashionable enough for the thin white duke.
- I wonder if Luther ever talked with Johnny Mathis about the life Luther was living. Johnny was always thought to be gay and it didn't seem to matter to his fans or friends. He sang those beautiful songs in that incredible voice and just went on living with whatever thin, blond dude had captured his fancy at some point.
He is still out there entertaining and quietly came out years ago with no discernible effect on his popularity. Luther could have learned a thing or two from Johnny.
Talk about a gay song! Listen to this gorgeous song.
- He was amazing esp in his early years.
The albums he did with Mascara and David Lasley are still classics.
Also his early albums Never Too Much, Busy Body, I Know and the ones he produced for Aretha and Dionne were gems.
- it's crazy when you think about all the amazing singers who either start off as or remain backup singers for less talented people. Vandross supporting Bowie? eew. Bowie was such a weak singer.
- R64' see the great new documentary "20 Feet From Stardom" about the great background singers. The always wonderful Darlene Love is featured.
- R65 yes I saw it and enjoyed the documentary. I'm still mad at Lisa Fischer for not wanting to continue what could have been a promising solo career. She's amazing and should be in front of a band and backup singers, not part of a supporting cast.
- Billy Preston was openly gay like Slyvester. Billy was the architect behind The classic Rolling Stones song "Miss You" but didn't get any credit from The Stones.
- Luther sang on "Fame" title song and came up with idea of repeating "Remember, Remember, Remember"
- I agree r64 that Bowie's not that great of a singer, has a tendency to sound like he's mumbling, for one thing. I'll defend him with one song though, Ashes To Ashes, really strong melody, some pretty cool lyrics about his heroin addiction, and excellent synth work.
- Frank Sinatra famously called Johnny Mathis "The African Queen," but now when Nancy S. is on the Siriusly Sinatra channel, she always goes on and on about him as if he were an old family friend.
Sinatra was a pig, but a complicated one. He was loyal to his friends even as he abused them. Sinatra respected talent, and Mathis was sometimes part of his group.
I am posting Mathis on Carson. Johnny Mathis was a great singer and a pretty black man, somewhat similar to Luther. There are many similarities in their styles, incredible abilities, theatrics and pretty man ways. Luther was much funkier and deeper in the pocket and a bigger talent being a writer and producer at a very creative time for black artists and superstars. But still there is that sweet, soulful, show off the song and respect the voice quality that both Mathis and Luther both exhibited. Just a bit prissy, but such beautiful sounds that we forgive it. SEXY. Luther Vandross is my favourite male singer.
Listen to Mathis hold and crescendo on the last note of this (corny) song for over 20 seconds. I am sure Luther must have learned a few things from listening to Mathis, but we know Luther's vocal hero was Dionne Warwick.
Gay and black and that word we can use ain't ever been easy. Church boys still hiding in plain site. I think that Luther did what was best for him. Had he outlived his mother he likely would have made it official and maybe live as long as Mathis. If Whitney had outlived her mother, she might still be alive too. I digress.
"Little Boy Lost"
- I just remember being devastated by his death and spent the day with the shades down, shrouded in melancholy, spinning all of my favorite 45s of his. Then I realized I was listening to Freddy Jackson records and pulled the shades back up in embarrassment.
- [quote]Then I realized I was listening to Freddy Jackson records and pulled the shades back up in embarrassment.
This one of my favorite Luther performances with Nippy, Stevie Wonder, and the great and powerful Hussynator. Luther shut those bitches down at 3:34 woowoowowoowwoo
- Bowis is and always was about more than his singing. It was the entire package, the visual, the aesthetic. Bowie's voice is perfect for what he does and he'll be the first to tell you his voice is just part of the picture. You've missed the point if you evaluate him solely on his "singing". Like Vandross, few others if anyone can effectively interpret his material. Without the distinction either vocalist brings to their material it falls flat.
- Speaking of Preston, he was very well-esteemed by The Beatles, often being referred to by them as the 5th Beatle because of the keyboard work he did with them.
- R73 that is one of my favorite group performances of solo artists. You just don't see stuff like that anymore because most in the biz don't have that talent these days (they're out there but not getting record deals/pushes). I love Luther's low notes.
R74 it's not about missing the point-some of us simply don't like Bowie's voice and think it's a joke someone like Luther started out doing backup for him. That's all. All the weak singers out there sound good because of their amazing backup singers.
- [R71] Thank you for posting that . Johnny Mathis is one of the greatest singers ever, and that song/ appearance one of his best . That last note incredible. This is what talent is. And Luther. P didy, Kanye, Jay Z - all amateurs, full of pumped up garbage they call music.
- If only Johnny Mathis was born about 50 years later.... Boy was he good-looking when he was young.
- "Hot Butterfly," one of the songs Luther sang lead vocals on with Change, is one of the best things he ever did. I love all of Luther's late-70s/early 80s studio work before he went solo.
He was such an unbelievable talent, and gone WAY too soon.
- Mathis was gorgeous!
If you're here and don't know Luther, he is gonna sing straight to Dionne Warwick in this clip, one of his and her greatest songs. Anyone else has loved this before. The ballad.
He made panties drop for sure. He knew his gift and his audience. His voice was so smooth and sexy, nuanced and deep in the heart of a phrase or song. He had his Divo moments, lots of them. But he could bring life to any backup vocal and stellar vocal to any solo. The most gorgeous voice.
Good morning, good evening, good afternoon...
"A house is not a Home"
- Vandross was overrated. He didn't know when to just leave the melody alone. Far too much embellishment of every damn song which made him essentially a one-trick pony.
Too bad he didn't learn from his idols Dionne and Aretha that sometimes less really is more. Those ladies knew when to hold back and when to let it all out. Luther was more like Mariah Carey - just tiresome and attention seeking melisma.
Not gonna lie. I wanted Johnny Mathis bad. Ha.
This song came out when I was about 16, it seemed so sad and sweet. Listen to the real record, it is quite beautiful. Sweeping strings and his tender vocal.
Luther was all about his eyes and Mathis was all about his mouth when singing, well at least to my lust...
This song is hokey and was then, when I was more into punk rock. But it is better than most anything that Streisand recorded in that time. Mathis felt something, but was removed from it too. Before divas, that is what great singers did. They believed in the song and maneuvered us through the feelings, showing only a glimpse of their own.(Sinatra) Divas changed all that, and left the great emotive male singers behind. Except Luther and later George Michael...only the best dude voices around.
Johnny was a handsome babe.
"Yellow Roses on Her Gown"
To compare Luther to Mariah is apposite in a way. But unlike her, he did not forsake the meaning or words of a song just for vocal tricks or sound without meaning.
Melisma is always thrown around about Whitney and now Luther? Mariah Carey gave melisma it's bad name. Many followed. Luther and Whitney used it with taste. I think you are mistaking riffs and runs for melisma. Melisma has always been here. Luther's worst vocal influence was his biggest friend, Patti Labelle.
Mariah Carey uses so much melisma that she always sounds like she is singing into a fan, the windy sort. There is no there, there in her singing. Not true of Luther. (True of Christina Aquilera and Beyonce, the other big melisma culprits.)
Aretha, makes everyone afraid to mention her name. But how she started to sing and where she ended up shows her to lose all restraint and good taste as a singer. She was once the greatest, but that was 30 years ago. Melisma is only one of her vocal crutches. The tone of a voice is what we all love in the end, no matter how great the ability of a singer. Aretha was a thrill and soared with her voice where her imitators scream. But she has for sometime screamed and used melisma in search of the note.
Aretha's incredible and powerful sound, like Carey's can fool people into some idea that they feel or mean something when they sing, but it is seldom true. They are gifted by the vocal gods, but not with lyrical or human connection.
In my humble opinion,(as we are taught to say),
you are wrong about melisma and Luther.
ehm Mariah Carey was first and foremost a studio singer - not very trained and very awkward on stage. She is and always was a product of intense promotion and vocal gimmicks.
Luther was a fine singer, not very powerful in his voice compared to Peabo Bryson or others of his generation, but he was very subtle and also had musical talent. He had very sophisticated taste, which reflected in his music esp the early stuff he did and also in the way he interpreted songs. Sorry, but Mariah Carey is cheap pop sensationalism.
- I love his album "The Night I Fell in Love", because I did just then and the songs covered it all.
- As famous as he was, it's a shame that he didn't have more #1 hits. True r&b singers (not the pop r&b) have never gotten enough respect from mainstream america.
- R61, Bowie didn't steal "Fascination" from Vandross. They rewrote the song together, primarily the lyrics, and slowedthe song down a bit, and Vandross received a songwriting credit. At that point in Vandross' career Bowie couldn't have done him a bigger favor. A songwriter is one of the first royalties paid and Young Americans was a million-seller. The Bowie catalogue is still one of the most valuable in retail music. So Vandross benefitted nicely from his association with Bowie. He may have been paid a fee for his singing/performing (as is standard practice), but Vandross continued to receive royalties from "Fascination", and I'm sure his estate does today.
And during this phase of Bowie's career his background vocalists were featured prominantly in concert and during TV and promo appearances. He wasn't petty enough to keep "black, chubby" Luther hidden. Bowie wasn't going to compromise the soul aesthetic he was immersed in during Young Americans.
- Luther produced two of Aretha's "comeback" records in the early 1980s: "Jump to It" and "Do It Right."
- I saw Luther's last concert tour five times. Vegas, L.A., Radio City, Phoenix and I even drove to Fresno (!) to see him there. He sang live and was phenomenal every time. He started recognizing my partner and me in the audience and waving to us. Great memories of a talent and a time that will never return.
- I have loved Luther V for many years. Always figured he was gay.
I remember him on Joan Rivers's talk show in the 80s...they did a video tour of his house. When they got to the bedroom Joan made a crack about the "closet" in that room...Luther quickly steered the topic to something else. He also said that actor Steve Gutenberg was a close friend of his at that time.
To me, LV's best songs are album cuts, not the hit singles. He wrote some amazingly beautiful, musically creative stuff that was ignored even by many of his fans who concentrated on the hits. My favorite example of this is "See Me" from the Give Me the Reason album:
- Anita Baker and Luther had patched up thier bad blood. They even agreed to record a duet together (one of the reasons Luther was pissed, Anita woud never do a duet). On the day they were supposed to record, Anita was a no show. No call, no show no reason. He ended up doing it with Martha Wash.
- For the person who posted about Hot Butterfly that was by the studio group Bionic Boogie...not Change. Great song though. Classic late night anthem. Didn't Luther have a bit of a scandal with a car crash where a young man who was a passenger died? It happened and then disappeared from the news. Luther and Gladys are the two performers I have seen the most live. I have seen Luther ten times and each time he was magnificent. I do feel that in the recording part of his career he veered too much torwards easy listening/quiet storm baby making music that sort of made his already smooth sound into a snooze. His voice was still great but it didn't have the power that it had when he was doing House is Not a Home or Give Me the Reason or Never Too Much. He smoothed out all the edges and as a result I stopped listening to most of his later output. Still went to see him live though and he proved that he was the best out there.
- One of Luther's first jobs was singing backup on Streisand/Summer's "Enough is Enough."
- Not a fan of his wailing style of singing. I also find his voice very unpleasant and he often sounded like a whining tranny.
- Wailing?? Luther crooned, darling. Prick up your ears next time.
- Ms Warwick hasnt shown up in here?
- "See You In LA" always puts me in a good mood.
- Vandross already had a prolific and respectable career as a session vocalist by the time he was asked to do "No More Tears". In fact, his resume probably got him the job.
- I know Luther wanted more pop success but he was one of the Kings of R&B during the '80s, the era that had Luther,
Freddie Jackson (who had alot of #1 hits during that era and he's a 'mo too),
Michael McDonald (the King of duets with female divas...he's sung with Aretha, Patti, Chaka, Toni, etc),
Bobby Brown (before he allowed drugs to wreck his career, he was Usher before Usher),
Ray Parker Jr.,
Billy Ocean, etc.
An emotional, cracky but regal Whitney Houston pays tribute to Brother Luther.
- [quote]I know Luther wanted more pop success but he was one of the Kings of R&B during the '80s
Excuse me, Miss Thang. One of the kings of R&B?? Brother Luther? Let's get one thing straight, Miss Di-ane! Ok? Let's get one thing straight. Bobby Brown is the one and only Kang of R&B! Let's get that straight.
The rest of 'em, God bless Brother Luther's soul, are all good but not in my Bobbaaayy's league, OK?
- This thread made me curious about Luther's disco period, and I found "See You In L.A.," which I had never heard before and I am just loving it. This is why I love Datalounge!
Luther had written Funky Music for his own group, called Luther, before he worked with Bowie. Bowie heard them rehearsing the song, just changed some of the lyrics and claimed he had written it.
And yes there were TV appearances and videos where some other, more appealing (to Bowie) and smaller guy (Luther was not only quite heavy but also very tall) lip synced Luther's back up vocals for Bowie.
Bette Middler continued that, with putting Luther behind the curtain in her concerts.
Shame really, I always thought he was handsome.
- Nat King Cole's oldest daughter had a serious thing for Johnny Mathis and badgered her father to help her get Mathis' attention. Mathis was a very big fan of Cole's. Apparently, Cole finally broke it down and told his daughter that her affections were misplaced because Johnny was not interested in girls.
Until I heard that tale recently, I didn't know that Mathis' orientation was acknowledged or known to others in the industry. I thought he was deeply closeted like Luther.
- R89 yes and that's when Luther and Aretha had a bit of a tiff. Aretha was used to being told her first takes were perfect. Luther was the first in a long time who said otherwise and they had a fight over how she should sing/sound in those songs lol.
R100 that is a great list. My my my how r&b has deteriorated! The guys you list have nice, robust, deep manly voices. Now all the guys have boyish, soft voices. I hope someone new comes along to revive real r&b.
There were amazing songs on Luther's 2 Aretha album - "It's just your love" and her duet with Livi Stubbs are outstanding as a several songs on the "Get It Right" album. AMAZING stuff!!
I always thought this is what Luther likes to do when no studio label exec interferes. But he also wanted money and liked fame and fortune which took the soul out of his music in the last years unfortunately. The Songs and Clive Davis albums were just awful.
- A close friend went to a party at his house ,circa 1989-90
it was all cute boys ,his boyfriend at the time was white.
He said Luther was very nice to everyone ,but quiet and shy
Just a party ,no orgy .think he said he lived in Laurel canyon
- Luther received a writing credit for "Fascination", so to indicate that the song was stolen is ridiculous. Vandross made more from that version of the song than he ever would have wih his own version. This is a case where one musician truly benefitted from the association with another.
Midler didn't include Vandross with her back-ups because they were all female. More often than not 2 were black, and typically one was of them was a bit zaftig. Vandross was kept out of sight merely for the reason that he was a man. To indicate otherwise is just narrow and self-serving.
If it's true that Luther wrote the song first and Bowie just took it without crediting Luther with the main writing credits, yes then he stole it. Not denying that Luther made more money that way, he was an unknown backup singer and his first 2 "Luther" albums probably made very little money.
- This whole premise that Bowie stold this song is just ignorant. Do your homework and look at the songwriting credits. They're listed as Bowie/Vandross and always have been, from the original vinyl issue through digital download. The only way Vandross would be able to collect a royalty from this song would be to be listed as a songwriter, and he is. I really don't think Vandross would have worked on a song that was so obviously close to one of his own without saying "Wait a minute here..." He and Bowie worked on reworking the song together. So stop trying to suggest that this an instance of a white artist ripping off a black artist. Vandross and Bowie were both aware of the value of Vandross' artistic input into Young Americans and, although it was Bowie's vision, it was to a good extent a creative collaboration.
- Brilliant Billy and Syreeta R67.
If Bowie was in any way involved in the writing of Funky Music Is A Part Of Me than he would have appeared in the writing credits on Luther's self titled album of that song. He wasn't!
Bowie just changed some of the lyrics and some of the arrangements but he was not involved in writing that song.
- Can we not argue about that non-singer freak Bowie? This thread is about the amazing singer Luther Vandross.
- Never said he was involved in writing "Funky Music". The song existed before Vandross was involved with Bowie, so he obviously he wouldn't get a songwriting credit. That's not the argument. The argument is whether of not Bowie stold anything from Vandross, and he did not. He simply got a credit for his contribution to a song Vandross had already written. It's a huge compliment and a huge career booster when someone like Bowie says to a young songwriter "You've got what I'm looking for." Vandross benefitted financially and artistically from his involvement with Bowie and I've never heard or read either man saying anything derogatory about the other.
- He's been lipo'd from head to toe.
- Did Luther ever consider marrying to dampen down the rumours?
- Bowie was very generous when it came down crediting himself as a writer, but not so much when it came to others. Vandross came up with the main hook on Young Americans, but strangely his name is missing in the writing credits.
- It's a shame that Luther never recorded or performed with Phyllis Hyman. A duet between them would have been AMAZING. They had so much in common-rich voices, pretty faces, very tall, emotional eaters, tempermental/divaesque and incapable of finding/keeping a meaningful relationship. Only difference was Luther didn't do drugs like Phyllis did.
- Wasn't Luther having an affair with two brothers in their teens? One died in a car crash and I think he paid the family off. (Good thing for him TMZ was not around then) He was never the same after that incident.
- This happened in 1986. I don't think Luther had an affair with the 2 of them. It's possible he had an affair with the older brother, who was 27 when he died in Luther's car crash. The younger brother, Jimmy Salvemini, is a great singer and Luther was looking to produce his debut album. He was only 15. After the car crash things changed though. I think Salvemini went on to record a debut album (not with Luther) and it didn't go anywhere. It's a shame as the guy has a nice r&b voice.
- omg r119, that wouldve been a duet made in heaven. Im glad there are so many admirers of Luther's work on DL.
r120, I never heard that rumor before...gurl
- I always thought this was a gay song.
- Here's an interesting clip of Luther talking about his weight issues, with commentary from Dionne and Whitney.
- Luther and DL fave Phyllis Hyman would have been something in a duet together. I wonder if they knew each other at all? Both were incredible talents who were also hot messes.
Luther singing "Hello", the Lionel Ritchie ballad and tucking it in his pocket. He takes it.
I love how at the end of the song, Luther flashes the "yes I did just sing like that EYE." Nobody did those pretty eye fucks like Luther. A bit gay, but sexy still.
Whitney took that look and put some concentrated Diva-light into it. She would slit her pretty brown almond eyes and just pierce the fucking joint. How do like me NOW!!
- thanks for posting that R126 I didn't know Luther performed that. He's a better singer than Lionel anyway.
Paul Simon, Luther and Jennifer Holliday singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in church. The choir is on fire.
Luther is too thin, it robbed his voice a bit when he was starved down, but he climbs the bridge/chorus of the song. Woo hoo. Jennifer was still singing more than growling back then and she and Luther take it home. Simon is a bit shaky, but happy to be there. Sweet.
- Fuck ALL of these Faggotts that the Black Church is breeding in the Black Race ,,It's PURE EVIL ,,And they are ALL going to be punished !!!!
- Rock and roll was never supposed to be about how beautiful your voice was or what an impressive range you had. Mick Jagger has always had a terrible voice. Janis Joplin was like nails on a chalk board. Lou Reed had practically no voice. But they delivered the goods.
- He had a hot n heavy romance with Star Jones.
- R130 some of us like people who can actually sing and don't want to hear those can't. Luther had such a beautiful voice.
- Giving MAJOR bitch face in this shot. Love it! yaaas. werq, Luther.
- I loved his "The Night I Fell In Love" album, so mid-80s and I had fallen in love too then. It was perfect. I want to hear it again now.
- Never too much, never too much, never too much...
- Luther was a fabulous singer/musician but sometimes his music makes me sad. Being closeted is irrelevant but longing to be loved and never getting it is tragic.
- R136 he was the non-drugged up, male Phyllis Hyman. Both of them mostly sang about not having a relationship.
- Phyllis was bi-polar. She could not form healthy romantic relationships. But she was gorgeous and never had trouble getting male attention, she just couldn't make it last.
Luther was overweight and suffered from low self-esteem about his looks. His loves were unrequited. The men in his life were with him because he was wealthy and lived lavishly -- not because they desired him. He's singing from a different place than Phyllis.
He was not a gospel singer. His mother was a religious bigot, just like Whitney's mom.
- Has "Twenty Feet From Stardom" been nominated for an Oscar?
It should be.
- That reminds me, I need to Netflix "Twenty Feet From Stardom" this weekend. It's gotten raves, but I've yet to see it.
- R138 in the last 7 or so years of Phyllis' life, she first became fat then obese. She also struggled with her sexuality, like Luther.
Luther was a handsome man too and though he was overweight for more of his life than Phyllis, both were yo-yo dieters.
It's just a shame they never made a duet. THAT would have sounded fucking amazing.
R140 of course not. The protagonists are black and the subject matter isn't about slavery so they're being ignored. Meanwhile a couple years ago that fucking silent movie with John Goodman cleaned up.
- Everyone loved Luther,he was amazingly talented,but honestly,everyone also knew he was gay.I never met one person who didnt think he was.BUT,what everyone speculated about more was his drug use,and thats another thing they can deny till the cows come home but Luther was a big ole coke head and everybody knew it!
- Yes r142 a Luther/Phyllis duet would have been epic. Although I think there would have been some bare-knuckle, wig-snatching, MMA-style brawling in the studio.
- He was good friends with David Lasley, openly gay falsetto singer extraordinare. They worked together quite a lot in Luther's early Disco years and Lasley was a frequent background singer on Luther's albums.
Too bad he never had the guts to come out, he was a real talent.
- Luther's singing voice was quite sexy to me, despite me viewing him as a non-sexual/asexual person.
I love it when I hear guys who can sing his songs well, as it's rare. Most come up quite short.
- In the vid at r81, the man you can see sitting over the left shoulder of Ms Warwick(e) is the gay actor Paul Winfield.
According to Wiki:
"Winfield was gay but remained discreet about it in the public eye. His partner of 30 years, architect Charles Gillan, Jr., died on March 5, 2002 of bone cancer.
Winfield long battled obesity and diabetes. He died of a heart attack in 2004 at age 64, at Queen of Angels – Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. Winfield and Gillan are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles."
"In Winfield's voiceover career, he is perhaps best known as the narrator for the A&E true crime series City Confidential, a role he began in 1998 and continued with until his death in 2004."
Nobody could draw out the word "murrrrrderrrrr" like Paul.
- I've always wondered: the unnamed AIDS victim 'friend' whose demise inspired Janet to write 'Together Again' - could it have been Mr Vandross...?
- Bumping since we were discussing Luther in the other thread.
r148, Luther died many years after Janet recorded that song, Janet probably recorded "Together Again" in 1996 and Luther died in 2005. I dont think it was about him.
r146, I dont think anyone has come close to Luther in the voice department, except Ruben Studdard who covered all his songs really well. All the pop guys these days have that nasally wanna-be Michael Jackson sound that has been done to death. Luther had a rich beautiful church voice that sadly is not happening right now because R&b has died off. John Legend had potential, but his vocal styling irritates the hell out of me, and he is not nearly as smooth as Luther was.
- He's dead so we'll never know, but how is he any different from Johnny Mathis?
- R149, I think Jaheim comes close to Luther. He never really blew up because all the Jackson imitators like Chris Brown, Usher songs Trey Songz got more promotion.
- I met Mr. Vandross once in a business context. He was polite, charming and smart. On the other hand, he should have kept his self-important condescending posse at home or put them back on the bus for the Bronx. One of his back-up singers in particular was insufferable. He must be working cruise ships now.
- "Image-obsessed MTV-era record execs were generally clueless about how to market a rapidly aging black crooner. A binge eater who swelled up if he lost a Grammy or a lover, Vandross rarely looked like the romantic lead his songs suggested. Execs likely stalled at his closetedness: like an r&b Cary Grant, Vandross wasn't the passionate heterosexual that his music suggested. 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. The sequined Liberace suits were a clue, as were the highly publicized bitch fights he waged on tour with Anita Baker and En Vogue. The dead giveaway for me was his admission that his high school grades plummeted because he was in anguish over Diana Ross leaving the Supremes."
- Another chubby self loathing queen who was extremely sexually repressed and desperately lonely. I think his church upbringing and conservative-and-judgemental-black-woman audience stunted him even further.
It's lucky he didn't reach MJ levels of fame (as he was thirsting to) because with all that money and power, i'm sure it wouldn't just be that 15 year old R&B singer (who survived the car accident) who would have copped his advances.
- It wasn't all about Luther's weight. He had a lot of nothing songs that his vocal stylings could only elevate so much.
There's a reason that people talk so much about his covers.
- Are you implying Luther only got laid once...?
I'm sure he had as much sex as he wanted. Whether it was with WHOM he really wanted is another matter.
- So nasty and so rude in this thread.
- [quote]The dead giveaway for me was his admission that his high school grades plummeted because he was in anguish over Diana Ross leaving the Supremes."
- He even did the Supremes / Ronettes cat eye makeup before Amy Winehouse brought it back!
- ''Like an R&B Cary Grant.''
Bless you for that R153!
- After rap (and maaaybe country), the whole R&B-quiet storm-pantydropper scene is the musical genre with the most stigma about homosexuality. If Vandross (the genre's inarguable figurehead between the 80s and early 00s) had come out, there would have been a shitstorm. His record sales would have plummeted, the black community would have thrown him under the bus, and his label would have dropped him. It's unfortunate because he was obviously very, very gay (his core audience demographic have never been the most discerning bunch) and deeply unsatisfied... but the alternative would have been worse.
Johnny Gill is STILL dodging those rumours frantically, 20 years after Ellen and Will + Grace. It's just inconceivable for that brand of R&B singer.
- If he and all the other closet cases had come out, they would have faced some difficulties, but they would be remembered as heroes who paved the way for others. He stayed closeted for $$$$$$, just as they all do. Stop excusing it. I realize a lot of you are closet cases too, but enough is enough.
- I mean I wouldn't have if I were him (maybe if one of his lesser peers), but it would definitely have opened up the conversation in a big way. Easier said than done, though, and he always mentioned how desperate he was for a pop #1, coming out would have destroyed all chances.
- Boy George was out by the early 90s. His romantic life remained fucked up. I doubt it would have elevated Vandross that much. As said, most assumed he was gay, even those who didn't want to think about it.