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Music / Luther Vandross

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Oh my love,
A thousand kisses from you is never too much,
I just don't wanna stop.
Oh my love,
A million days in your arms is never too much,
I just don't wanna stop too much, never too much, never too much, never too much.
— "Never Too Much"

Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr. (April 21, 1951 — July 1, 2005) was one of the defining singers and songwriters of R&B/Soul during The '80s and The '90s. Inspired by '60s and '70s icons such as The Supremes, Patti LaBelle, and Dionne Warwick, Vandross got his start by writing “Everybody Rejoice” for the musical (later movie) The Wiz.

His big break took place when David Bowie overheard Vandross discussing vocal arrangements with guitarist Carlos Alomar. Vandross was invited by Bowie to sing and arrange background vocals on his Young Americans album. (He also co-wrote one of the album's songs, "Fascination.") Shortly thereafter, Vandross found fairly steady work as a background and commercial jingle singer note , earning the occasional featured vocal credit along the way.

In 1981, Vandross released his first solo album, Never Too Much, which quickly found admiration among R&B fans. His next five albums, Forever, For Always, For Love; Busy Body, The Night I Fell In Love, Give Me The Reason, and Any Love, were also extraordinarily popular. His music is known for being deeply romantic and sensual; it is often joked that if you were born in the '80s or early '90s, there's a chance you owe your conception to him.

Vandross, however, also sought crossover success. Later hits such as “Here and Now”, “Power of Love/Love Power”, “The Best Things In Life Are Free” (a duet with Janet Jackson), and “Endless Love” (a duet with Mariah Carey and cover of the Lionel Richie and Diana Ross song) proved very popular with both pop and R&B audiences. The coveted #1 pop spot eluded Vandross until 2003, when he released the title track from his album Dance With My Father, a tribute to his father who passed away when he was eight.

Unfortunately, his own health troubles — he had a notorious love of extremely unhealthy foodnote  and otherwise lived a very unhealthy lifestyle — had taken a serious toll on him. Vandross suffered a stroke shortly after completing Dance With My Father, leaving him unable to personally accept the four Grammy Awards he won that year.

Vandross died in July of 2005 at the age of 54, leaving behind heartbroken fans and a legacy as one of the greatest solo R&B artists of all time.


  • Never Too Much (1981)
  • Forever, For Always, For Love (1982)
  • Busy Body (1983)
  • The Night I Fell in Love (1985)
  • Give Me the Reason (1986)
  • Any Love (1988)
  • Power of Love (1991)
  • Never Let Me Go (1993)
  • Songs (1994)
  • Your Secret Love (1996)
  • I Know (1998)
  • Luther Vandross (2001)
  • Dance with My Father (2003)


  • '80s Hair: In the music video for "Stop to Love", backup singer Lisa Fischer's mohawk weave comes with its own laws of physics. Luther's Jheri curl is also an example, but it pales in comparison to the mohawk.
  • Chroma Key: Notably averted in the music video for "Stop to Love". One may assume that he and his backup singers are in front of a blue screen, but they are actually performing on a flatbed truck driving through the streets of Los Angeles. You occasionally see their police escort in the background.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: Averted, Vandross covered "Killing Me Softly with His Song" in 1994 and he did not change the gender of the subject in the song.
  • Cover Version: "A House is Not a Home" was originally sung by Dionne Warwick. It's arguable this is a case of Covered Up invoked as Vandross's version is more well-known and was more successful.
  • Epic Rocking: His cover of "A House Is Not a Home" clocks in at 7:11, which is especially unusual because that is the radio version that gets played on oldies stations to this day.
  • Good Parents: "Dance With My Father" is about how wonderful his father was and how much he wished he was still alive.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Luther Ronzoni Vandross was so named because his mother saw a commercial for Ronzoni brand pasta in the hospital.
  • Melismatic Vocals: One of the more prominent male soul singer examples.
  • Silly Love Songs: A majority of his catalog is comprised of these.
  • Transparent Closet: Luther Vandross never came out as gay while he was alive. Of course, that didn't stop the constant speculation in regards of his love life as he never married nor had children. A few of his closest friends did know, and after his death, Patti Labelle would confirm that he was gay.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Dance With My Father" goes from B♭ to C towards the end.
  • Would Rather Suffer: The chorus of "I'd Rather" has a downplayed version of this trope, as the singer chooses to suffer while together with his true love rather than be by himself or someone else.