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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Japan Today - News - Soul star Luther Vandross dead at 54 - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Soul star Luther Vandross dead at 54 - Japan's Leading International News Network Monday, July 4, 2005

Soul star Luther Vandross dead at 54

Sunday, July 3, 2005 at 07:11 JST
NEW YORK — Legendary American soul singer Luther Vandross died at the age of 54, two years after suffering a devastating stroke that left him debilitated for the rest of his life, a hospital spokesman said Friday.

The Grammy Award-winning musical star died at the John F Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, in New Jersey.

"At 1:47 p.m. at the JFK Medical Center, Luther Vandross had a peaceful passing under the watchful eyes of friends, family and his medical support team," said hospital spokesman Robert Cavanaugh.

"Luther Vandross suffered a stroke two years ago which he never fully recovered from. "Luther was deeply touched by all the thoughts and wishes from his fans," Cavanaugh said.

Vandross stopped making public appearances following his stroke in his New York apartment, but managed to keep recording, winning four Grammys in 2004 including best song for his wrenching "Dance With My Father."

The artist dominated the rhythm and blues world for more than 20 years, his 14 albums selling more than 25 million records and winning a total of eight Grammy awards in the latter part of his three-decade career.

Born Luther Ronzoni Vandross on April 20, 1951 in New York to a family with a strong tradition of gospel and soul singing, the young Vandross grew up listening to the music of Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick.

While at school, the young musician formed a group and performed at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York.

He got his first major career break in 1972 when his song "Everybody Rejoice (A Brand New Day)" was chosen to feature in Broadway musical "The Wiz."

In 1974, a pal invited him to join a recording session for British musical star David Bowie's "Young Americans" album during which he caught the eye of Bowie, who asked him to arrange the vocals and sing many of the backing tracks.

He later toured with Bowie and then with U.S. diva Bette Midler, becoming one of the music industry's top session musicians and oval arrangers, but remaining largely unknown to the public.

In 1975, he formed his own group — Luther — and made two albums which did not fare well.

Until the 1980s Vandross, supported himself primarily by making television advertising jingles, but his recording work for music mogul Quincy Jones as well as Sister Sledge maintained his profile in the industry.

His debut solo album "Never Too Much" was released in 1981 by Epic Records, setting Vandross on course for a decade of chart-topping albums and singles that made him a global star. (Wire reports)

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