Soul crooner Luther Vandross was born 47 years ago today in New York
City. After collaborating with the likes of John Lennon, David Bowie and Chic,
among others, Vandross became a star in his own right with such platinum
(more than 1 million sold) albums as Power of Love, Songs and
Your Secret Love. Throughout the '70s, Vandross sang commercial
jingles for companies such as Burger King. His elastic tenor, teamed with his
careful phrasing and vocal control, led many popular artists of this
period to employ him as a backup singer. His first appearance of note
came on David Bowie's 1975 pop-soul album, Young Americans.
Vandross sang on several tracks and co-wrote the #1 single "Fame" with Bowie
and Lennon. In the latter part of the decade, he recorded with several different
bands, including Roundtree and Change, and sang on songs by the influential
soul-pop group Chic, including "Dance, Dance, Dance" and "Everybody
Dance." After Change's hit album, Glow of Love, Vandross entertained
offers from several record labels.
In 1981, Vandross signed with Epic, which allowed him to write and
produce his own material. His first album, Never Too Much, went #1 on
the R&B charts, and the title song broke the top 40. Vandross then produced
albums for Aretha Franklin (1982's Jump To It) and others, releasing a
steady stream of his own albums throughout the decade. Forever, for
Always, for Love (1982), Busy Body (1983), The Night I Fell in
Love (1985), Give Me the Reason (1986) and Any Love
(1988) all went platinum and enjoyed hit R&B singles. But it wasn't
until 1989 that Vandross joined R&B contemporaries such as Prince and
Michael Jackson as major players on the pop scene. That year's The Best of
Luther Vandross ... The Best of Love, a double greatest-hits set, featured
the new "Here and Now," which became his first top-10 hit on the pop charts.
The next album, 1991's Power of Love, yet another
million-seller, featured two more pop hits, "Power of Love/Love Power"
and "Don't Want to Be a Fool." Vandross did not get along with
Anita Baker while they shared a tour in 1990, and fingers began pointing
to him as difficult after he had disagreements with En Vogue while
touring with them in 1993. Vandross' 1993 album, Never Let Me Go,
did not sell as well as his two previous efforts, but the all-covers
album, Songs, went double-platinum in 1994. In 1996, Epic
released Your Secret Love, which also sold more than 1 million copies,
and followed it with another compilation, One Night With You -- The Best of
Love Volume 2 (1997).
Other birthdays: Craig Frost (Grand Funk Railroad), 50.