Luther Vandross Biography
Claim to Fame: Singer
DOB: April 20, 1951
Date of Death: July 1, 2005
Diabetes Type: 2
Luther Ronzoni Vandross was born in a poor Bronx neighborhood in the 1950s, into a family that had a love for gospel and soul music. Performing at Harlems Apollo Theater in high school, Vandross early years were marked by tragedies which proved quite formative- he lost his father to diabetes at the age of 8, and though a star student, dropped out of high school in a fit of depression brought on by Diana Ross departure from the Supremes. Struggling as a musician, he was introduced to David Bowie through a friend, who took quite a liking to Vandross. Bowie took him on as a backup singer for his Young Americans album and the subsequent tour to follow. Soon, Vandross talents were recruited by the likes of Chaka Khan, Ringo Starr, Donna Summer, Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand.
In 1981, Luther Vandross released his first solo album, which though a hit in the soul and R&B world, had a tough time gaining mainstream popularity. Yet as he developed his distinct, silky, baritone sound for which he came to be known, by the early 1990s Luther Vandross was topping the charts. However, Vandross also shared in his fathers struggle with diabetes, in addition to weight problems and hypertension, and a stroke in 2003 kept him from performing publicly for the rest of his life. In spite of this, Vandross won four Grammys the year before his death in 2005, reminding his fans, "remember, when I say goodbye, it's never for long, because I believe in the power of love."
Watch Divabetic a group founded by Luther Vandross friend, Max Szadek on dLifeTV.
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