Saturday, July 02, 2005


When I heard that Luther Vandross had passed due to complications from a stroke on Friday, I has heartbroken. Here was a man who was the greatest singer in his generation and now he's gone. When I tried to start on a singing career as a teen, due to my old man's urging, he was telling everyone I was going to be the net Luther. There was only ONE Luther and I couldn't replace the man. All you had to do in my neighborhood was just say the man's first name and everyone knew who you were talking about.

He was a session singer at first, doing backup gigs with studio bands and artist like David Bowie ( including "Fame" which crossed over from the rock charts to the soul charts), Elton John, Chic and others. It was in 1979 that Luther decided to finally go solo and in 1981, released "Never Too Much" on Colombia. From there, it was hit after hit after hit and we were all jammin' and slow draggin' to every one of them. There isn't a person here today that can't say they got their groove on with Vandross tune, if you know what I mean.

Two personal Luther stories. Would you belive my very first concert was a Vandross show here in Savannah, circa August 1985? I was nineteen and had never been to any music act, rock, r&b or otherwise. I sat in the center seats thidr row and could see Luther up close. He was in the middle of his famous weight battle and looking like he was winning at the time. After doing a few tunes, Luther told the audience how much he hated the fact that Eddie Murphy had a bit in his stand up act of how even though the man could sing, Luther was a Kentucky Fried Chicken eatin' Mo-Fo. Luther said he was offended as Hell by the man and by that remark. Vandross stated that he will always be a Popeye's chicken eatin' man forever.

A year later, I entered the talent contest at Savannah State while I was a student there. I had plan on singing, but my voice was sore from practicing and having to work at my first radio job. Instead, I decided to turn it into a comedy bit and lipsynced Luther's ballad "If Only For One Night", one of my favorite songs and the sexiest slow jam ever. I, however turned it into a overdone farce, bringing a girl to the stage and acting over the top on the whole thing. I wound up winning the show with a standing ovation and realized that I had a pretty good sense of humor.

Luther Vandros was a man with as big a talent as he would be, depending on his size at the time. We've had singers come and go and no one can or could touch the legacy Vandross created. I can't enjoy any of the new so-called r&b crooners out there right now. They either try to copy the past with failure or they have no talent wat so ever. I know I spin alot of that stuff now in the clubs or on WEAS FM, but I have no choice in that matter. I'm stuck with it due to programming and I've told them this before. If I had my way, I'd replace every stupid R. Kelly song on the playlist with a Luther tune. I think everyone would be the better for it and the lovin' would be alot more romantic. Try it with the one you love one night and see. Luther would thank you.

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