Today (April 20) marks the 72nd birthday for the late Luther Vandross.
Powerhouse vocalist, Luther Vandross is globally beloved for his timeless records. For over 30 years, Vandross poured out his heart in the recording studio, yielding countless hits including “Never Too Much,” “Always and Forever,” and “So Amazing,” among many others. In addition to his voice, Vandross had a unique ability to write about love and the shared emotions we all feel in that search and enjoyment of love.
Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr was born on April 20th, 1951 at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. The youngest of four children, Vandross was raised by his mother, a nurse, after his father died. After high school, he initially attended college to purse an electrical engineering degree but left to follow a musical career.
In the late 70s Vandross became one of the most sought after background singers. He lended his vocals to other singers (Donna Summer, Barbra Streisand) and commercial jingles (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pepsi Cola).
In 1981, Vandross signed with Epic and released his debut album, Never Too Much, which sold more than a million copies. He released several subsequent albums throughout the 1980s, often partnering with luminary artists such as Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warrick.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Vandross was a solidified R&B phenomenon. He won his first Grammy for “Here and Now,” two for co-writing and performing , “Power of Love,” one for “Your Secret Love,” and one for “The Closer I Get To You.” He racked up the most Grammy wins, 3, for 2003’s “Dance With My Father,” which was voted Song of the Year.
Vandross’ nearly 300 samples and 164 covers is a testament to his indelible impact in pop, soul & R&B.
- “Never Too Much” – Vandross’ most sampled song has over 60 samples, the latest being “Sunshine (The Light)” by Amorphous and Fat Joe.
- “Dance With My Father” – 22 samples
- “Dont You Know That” – 29 samples
- “So Amazing” – 8 samples
- “Better Love” – 12 samples
Check out his essential song playlist below:
Love of family, friends and that special someone– were themes Vandross explored with his music regularly, becoming a staple in the most joyous moments of people’s lives.