Luther Vandross died at the age of 54 Friday, July 1, 2005. The cause of death was not immediately released, but a spokesman stated that he had never fully recovered from a stroke suffered in April, 2003. The music world was shocked and such legendary figures as Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones and Patti LaBelle delivered words of condolence.
Vandross began his long, successful career as a studio backup singer in the mid-1970's working on projects such as David Bowie's Young Americans album. With the emergence of disco in the late 70's Luther's silky smooth voice helped create classics by the groups Chic and Change. After the encouragement of friend Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross recorded his first solo album Never Too Much in 1981. That album's quick success turned Vandross into a star.
Throughout the 80's Luther Vandross recorded a number of major r&b hits but failed to have the same success on the pop charts until 1990's "Here and Now." While recording as a successful solo artist, Vandross continued to work behind the scenes with other artists as producer and backup vocalist. He fulfilled a lifelong dream of producing work by Aretha Franklin on her Jump To It album. In 2003, after suffering a debilitating stroke, Luther Vandross released the album Dance With My Father, and it debuted at the top of the pop chart. He received 4 Grammy Awards during his career and was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award as recently as March, 2005 for the duet "The Closer I Get To You" with Beyonce.