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Vandross, Luther (20th April 1951-1st July 2005)

He was a singer-songwriter and producer born Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr. on the Lower Wast Side of Manhattain in New York City who grew up with a musical family and began to play the piano when he was three years old.  His sister sang with the chart topping group The Crests in the 1960s.

Once in high school he joined the band Listen My Brother and they appeared once in Harlem at the Apollo Theater.

In 1968 he produced the album Soul Christmas and in 1969 he was a vocalist on the Quincy Jones Album Best and appeared on the first every episode of Sesame Street.

During his career he wrote music for the Broadway musical Everybody Rejoice, the movie The Wiz, and numerous songs and jingles for commercials.

As a singer he saw success with his own recordings and song covers, selling over 25 million albums and winning eight Grammy Awards.  His inspiration came from singers including Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Diana  Ross and Aretha Franklin, and in turn he inspired artists such as Boyz II Men, Brandy, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Usher.

A sufferer of hypertension and diabetes, he suffered a stroke in 2003.  Although briefly appearing on video at the 2004 Grammy Awards to accept an award he was never seen in public again.  He died in 2005 aged 54 in New Jersey.

J. Geils Band recordings
Flamethrower (Seth Justman)

Recorded in 1981 this song is the B-side of J. Geils Band “Centerfold” and appears on the album Freeze Frame.  The song features several back up vocalists including Cissy Houston, Tawatha Agee and Luther Vandross.  It was featured in the 1995 film Man of the Year.