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LUTHER VANDROSS TRIBUTE - PT. 2
MUSIC INDUSTRY & PERSONAL FRIENDS PAY TRIBUTE
"Words cannot express the heavy heart and sadness I felt learning of the passing of my dear, dear, friend Luther. He was more than just a friend, he was family. I, like so many others will miss that wonderful voice and joy brought through his music, but I will also miss that wonderful sense of humor, that hearty laugh, and his bigger than life sense of caring. He is in a place now where there is no suffering or pain, and knowing Luther, he has already joined the heavenly choir, giving that silky smoothness that was missing. May GOD bless his soul and my prayers will stay with mother V in this hour of great loss." - Dionne Warwick

"I was truly saddened to hear about two very dear and old friends of mine, Luther Vandross and Obie Benson (of The Four Tops). Luther, one of the premiere balladeers of all times and a dear friend and Obie Benson, one of the great showmen of all times and friend. Of course they were both revered and loved by so many. They have both moved on up a little higher, beyond the reach of pain and suffering. God Bless them both. I will truly miss them." - Aretha Franklin

"He had one of the greatest voices that ever sang a song. He was one of the sweetest men I have ever known. And he was one of the best friends I have ever had. I'm so happy that his legacy will live on forever. And I promise to take care of his mom, Miss Mary Ida, and help her to be strong and to keep a smile on her face. Luther was one of a kind and will never be forgotten. I miss him more than words could ever say." - Patti LaBelle

"Friends who knew that Luther and I were very good friends, I say to you all that our friend Luther was a true musical genius, a legend, and a great person. He graced us with his presence and will truly be missed. Please indulge me as …I Remember Our Friend…… How I Met Luther When I was nominated for my second Grammy he was as well. We both were staying at the L’Ermitage Hotel in Los Angeles. I got back to my room and then I heard this knock on the door. I opened it and there he was. He said, “I just had to meet you Freddie Jackson”. He handed me a card and it said break a leg, better yet break two legs. We started laughing, and our friendship started from there. We would have so much fun playing jokes on folks that saw us in the same party or something and thought we didn’t like each other. We would call each other and set up a situation and pretend to be cussing each other out all loud and then get back in our separate cars or hotel and call each other and talk about everybody that was talking about us, and just laugh our behind off. So every time people would see us at parties we would pretend to fight. Now artist rivalry, we both had it, but we both respected each other.

The Last Time He Came To See Me In A Show Luther came to see Stephanie Mills and I when we were doing this play called the “Nativity”. Stephanie had invited him back stage, I told the stage guys that I wanted to play a joke on him and tell him I said, if they saw him, to hit him in the head with a bat. He pretended to get mad and left. Stephanie later saw him and asked what happened and he told her what I said. We laughed.

The Last Time I Went To Visit Luther He and I had a very, very personal and deep relationship. We talked about some of everything. In this business you don’t have that many people you talk to that isn’t always trying to steal a thought or whatever you said and have it end up on headline news. I will definitely miss the jokes with my friend. He could really play and take a joke. If you knew him you know what I mean. No one is as good as me when it comes to the jokes but Luther was my equal, he could give it and take it with the best of us. I have nobody to joke with now. This industry is so full of folks that you don’t know if you have friends or not. I can say I am proud to have been called friend by Luther Vandross and equally proud to have called him a friend.

Musical Legacy Luther lived a fabulous life. He was a perfectionist, an elegant entertainer, a gentleman and a gentle and giving man. He loved his art of music and he will live on forever. We will never be without his presence because he will always be with us. Especially for any male singer who attempts to sing, he will always think of Luther Vandross. I pattern myself after three extraordinary talented men, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass and Johnny Mathis.

Luther is no longer here but, through his musical generosity he has left the world a lifetime of intimacy and romance, “forever for always for love”. God bless you luther ……..Your friend." - Freddie Jackson

"First time I ever saw Luther Vandross live had its greatest impact on me: the sound was impeccable so that I could hear every nuance and inflection in his voice; he always had an amazing team behind him – Nat Adderley Jr., Marcus Miller; everything in the show was done with excellence. My mother took me and when I heard "Busy Body," I said, "I want to sing like this man!" When I started out, my whole thing was singing a lot of his cover songs and imitating him. When I listened to his music, I said "I want to sing like this" because he made love to the song, like he caressed it, massaged it. I remember being a part of tribute to Luther along with Whitney Houston, Johnny Gill and El DeBarge. It was surreal, extremely intimidating, standing in front of him and singing and I thought of what he meant to me.

Last time I saw him was at the Forum in L.A. in 2001 when KJLH was doing its annual "House Full Of Toys" event and that's when I saw another side of him. I watched him play with my step-daughter Sophia. I saw him singing to her and she kept running away! I finally said to her, 'Girl, stop running away, that’s Luther Vandross singing to you!'" - Kenny Lattimore

"God bless you Luther!

I am another artist who admired and always will treasure the memories of meeting a great man of song, Luther Vandross. We even laughed together, when I was around 21 years of age and we shared and graced the same stages. With the gift that God and your parents have given you, Luther, you still live in all of us. I will truly miss you. You shall not suffer, you shall sing always in the heavens above. To Mother Vandross your son will remain a gentleman and Legend with a beautiful voice and a great soul forever. God Bless your child. I'll keep you in my prayers." - Evelyn Champagne King & Freddie Fox

"We shall miss Luther - he was one of a kind - we shall cherish his music for decades to come. Thank you Luther for your very special gift. God Bless. Our deepest sympathies to his Mom, family , friends and fans around the world. Much love." - Ann & Chubby Tavares & Family

"Great memories!!! Man, you know the one story that always comes to mind is when you guys (David Nathan and Luther Vandross) called my house and I thought it was a joke, I'm thinking to myself 'Why would the great one call me" Ha!! Ha!!!! This brotha will truly be missed; if it weren't for him I don't know where I would be musically. His music and vocal styling was the foundation I used to shape who I am." - Will Downing

"Such a great, wonderful, powerful, magnetic, stellar, personality, artist and friend. A friend to me and to everyone that simply heard his voice. God is putting together His Heavenly Choir!! We'll sing together again Lou...God bless you and your family. We'll miss you...but we still have SO much you left here with us. And for that WE are so grateful and blessed." - Howard Hewett

"Luther was a spirit-filled gift to us all. The joy and pain he shared with us through the inspiring voice that God blessed him with touched our hearts our souls and our spirits. I will miss you but your music will be a part of me forever - and you are so very very right no matter where or when no matter how much it costs, a house is not a home. Safe journey, my friend - God Speed." - Bill Duke

"It is a tremendous loss, but I am so glad Luther’s soul is set free from this body he has been trapped in these past couple of years. Where he is now, I believe he can sing, laugh, and dance his heart out. In my heart I don’t believe he would be happy not being able to do what he did better than most, sing, and he loved to live large, and he’s really living large now. God bless that gifted man." - Brenda Russell

"I have spent the past days in thought. Reminiscing about our time together working with Nile and Bernard in Chic. How I knew after you left that situation you were bound for great things. It was apparent when you were warming up the singers backstage (while on tour) with songs from your group LUTHER (the song "Superlovin" immediately comes to mind) that you were in preparation for what was to come. As a rough around the edges 19-year old, you taught me lessons on how to be a professional onstage and not make faces even in the dark (a lesson you learned as a camera flash caught you in the dark, looking disdainfully at Todd Rundgren climbing up a speaker stack). You taught me to believe in your own worth and vision and let no one stop you from your dreams. You brought wonderful people into my life like Fonzi, Alfa and so many others. And whenever and wherever we ran into each other, it was always like seeing a long lost friend and compatriot who shared a point in time that no one can ever take away and stands on its own as unique. I will always appreciate that.

I never got to tell you that there was a time when I had been called to sub for Skip (Anderson) on one of your tours and I was learning your book without you knowing. The crew didn't want you to be upset and wanted me to be prepared for the day when Skip simply wasn't there and I was in his place ready to play the show. Fortunately, my services weren't needed but I remember a couple of nights at the Palladium in NYC sneaking around not being able to get a bear hug from my buddy!! We love you and you are gonna be truly missed man!!" - Raymond Jones

"I first met Luther and his best friend Fonzi Thornton in 1970 at the Apollo when I was guitarist for the Vibrations and they were part of "Listen My Brother, a NYC awareness troupe who was the opening act. We became "backstage friends" and in several short years, connected again via the David Bowie sessions in Philly. I always felt that Luther was destined for stardom by the sheer way which he carried himself and his undying love for all music. and I was elated when he first came on the scene and had multi platinum success "right out the box". In 1988, when we were informed that Luther had recorded "our little song" we were over the moon and when he Luther it as only he could do, we were totally blown away, especially when we were informed how much that song meant to him...and to us. His passing was a devastating blow to us, but we are comforted by the assurance of Luther being the leader of that heavenly choir." - Bobby Eli (co writer along with Vinnie Barrett of the song "Love Wont Let Me Wait" which Luther made "his own" after covering it so gracefully in 1988).

"As far as I'm concern you are the king of vocals, I'm sure that you're never made any mistakes when it came to singing and if you did I just know they were great too. Musically yours." - Dorothy "Misty Blue" Moore

"Luther, Luther, Luther…. Where do I begin? As I stand here contemplating on the right thing to decide, I remember how much you loved this song. (Who Can I Run To?). I remember the tales of you sometimes saying to your singers, (in the studio), to "sing it like The Jones Girls!" I remember our run-ins at Fred Segals and well-known nightspots. But even more, I remember our working tours together. I admired you more than you could ever have admired us and you, oh so much, will live on in my heart! God bless you my brother, say hey to Valorie and I’ll see you when…To Fonzi, I’m here 4 u…4everluv." - Brenda Jones Williams (The Jones Girls)

"Luther, this is Shirley Jones, lead singer of The Jones Girls, I was just telling my dear friend Cynthia Biggs how much you loved " Who Can I Run To" I like Brenda have many memories of our tours with you and the many special conversations we had even after I left the Jones Girls. I know you are there leading Our Father's special choir, also know that you loved and most of all respected and loved your family. My love to your Mother... Fonzi, Paulette and all please know that My prayers are with you and your families during this time of sorrow. Luther is fine , he is gone to that place where we all will go one day. I hope. Love your families, cling, and know that this life is only temporary, the eternal life comes after we have done all we can here with friends , loved ones and Family. The Special place is now where our brother Luther resides....Please say hello to my baby sister Valorie... I love you sweetie!!! Peace." - Shirley Jones Hubbard

"David, Your tribute to Luther was a wonderful in depth vision of how truly great our friend was. I was reminded of his other talent...knowing how to laugh at the silliest things. I recall when Luther, Marcus Miller and I were coming down the stairs in a posh LA hotel on our way to an awards show in LA. We were all dressed up in our tuxedos and bow ties. When we reached the bottom of the stairs Luther said "You know, we look like The Temptations in these outfits," and started singing out loud "I Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day"...then he and Marcus broke out in to a Temptations Walk through the main lobby and out the hotel door as all the rich white folks staring in disbelief! What a wonderful memory, Luther's sense of humor is legendary.

An Aretha story. In 1980 I was at Almo Irving Publishing meeting with Brenda Andrews (who by the way gave me the song "How Will I Know" for Whitney a few years later) speaking with Allie Willis co-writer of Earth Wind and Fire's "Boogie Wonderland," telling her I was moving to New York. Allie suggested I look up look a friend of hers in the big city. I rented an apartment on 9th Ave and 60th Street. One day as I entered the deli next to the building, Luther was at the counter paying for some food, when I approached him and mentioned Allie. He asked me what I did in the biz, and I said I worked in A&R at Arista. He stepped back, hesitated, and said, "Arista...Clive Davis... ARETHA"! That was the beginning of the "Jump To It" album. The next day I went to Clive and told him about the chance meeting saying we should consider Luther to produce Aretha's next album. He hesitated, thought about it, contemplating if we should take a chance with a new writer/producer with the "Queen of Soul." He picked up the phone and called Aretha, I was on the other line and heard her say, "Luther..."Never Too Much," I like that song, let's see what songs he comes up with."

Clive didn't want to give him the entire project because at that time Luther was not considered a hit producer, so I talked him into having Luther write and demo three songs, and if he thought they were hits he could produce the entire project. Luther knew exactly what to do with Aretha, this was his dream project, she was his idol. He and Marcus Miller wrote and produced three master recordings, "Jump To It," "This Is For Real," and another song I can't remember. We were in the studio, "Jump To It" was finished, it was a smash, but Luther, Marcus and I knew we had to convince Clive. Remember, Aretha had two mediocre albums before this, so he was going to be very careful in approving Luther's material. I brought the rough mix of the record to Clive. Needless to say I was extremely nervous, because I knew this was not the kind of song that he would "hear". Sure enough Clive was not completely sold, so he called all of the pop, R&B promotion and sales staff to his office to play it for them...when the song finished the staff went crazy - they knew we had the big hit that would re-ignite Aretha's career. Clive then played it for Aretha over the phone and she too knew this was the kind of song that could put her on top again. Luther had achieved his dream, Aretha was on top again. (By the way, I had to break up one of those 'moments' in the studio between he and Aretha. Best Wishes." - Gerry (Griffith)

"I remember my first time meeting Luther. It was 1984 in Beverly Hills - Grammy week. My partner, Dexter (Wansel) and I were in town to get keys on Lou Rawls for an upcoming CBS release. We were staying at the L'Ermitage on Burton Way and ran into Luther on the elevator. We exchanged greetings and Dexter and I introduced ourselves. Luther recognized our names right away because of our then current release on Patti LaBelle, “If Only You Knew.” He flashed the biggest smile, sang the first line of the chorus and said, "I'm scared of y'all!" To this very day, I hold that as one of the highest compliments ever paid, especially considering the source. We all suffer this tremendous loss, but I will bask in the wake of the musical legacy Luther Vandross leaves behind. Some of my favorites - the remake of Bacharach and David's “A House Is Not A Home.” Luther's performance is masterful. Then there's “Don't Wanna Be A Fool.” The lines "She said I was a bore - my heart hit the floor" - what imagery! That's classic songwriting! God bless you, Luther. You reign as one of the all-time greats!" - Cynthia Biggs

"I first met Luther when I worked for The David Frost Show back in New York. He was a part of a performing ensemble, "Listen My Brother." Fonzi Thornton was a member of the performing troupe. Over the years our paths continued to cross. However, it was while he was producing Cheryl Lynn's "Instant Love," album, featuring their duet, "If This World Were Mine," that became a classic moment for me. Anyone who knew Luther knew how he was about guests in the studio while recording. They simply were not allowed. I received a phone late one evening around 10:00 PM. It was Cheryl Lynn telling me that Luther had suggested to her that she invite her friend down for the recording of "If This World Were Mine." I was told I had to come by myself, and I immediately jumped in a cab from 100th & Riverside to Media Sound Studios on West 57th St., and was privy to a monumental moment of musical genius-stry at work. I was there for over four hours and sat and watched in amazement and these two vocal giants went over verse, chorus and hook of "If This World Were Mine." Truly a treasured moment and a memory that will last a lifetime." - Kenneth R. Reynolds Public Relations Plus

"Marvin Young (aka rapper Young MC) and myself had written a song called "Any Other Way" that was just perfect for Luther. Will Wheaton had sung the demo, and everybody who heard it immediately said "Luther just has to record that song!" My wife Peggi Blu had been close friends with Luther since he was fifteen years old, and she gave me his home phone number. I left a message on his answering machine, excitedly telling him about the song. When I didn't hear back from him I left another message. And another...and another...and another. Probably about fifteen or so. When he didn't answer any of the messages I told Marvin that we should forget about it, since he obviously wasn't interested. A few weeks passed by. I was producing a session in my studio when the phone rang. I picked it up, and it was Luther. A very pissed off Luther. "If you call me one more time about that damned song I'm going to kill you!". I laughed because it was funny to hear him hollering at me. I had clients in front of me, and when I said "hi Luther" they all turned around. "So Luther, what did you think about the song?". He answered curtly - "It's a nice song, but you should give it to James Ingram". I said "hey Luther, why don't you come into my studio and try laying down a vocal on the song - maybe you'll like it then?" Now he started screaming again - "What???? Don't you think I know what songs are good for me???". I figured I only had a short amount of time left on the call. "Luther, I'm just a struggling songwriter trying to get his songs recorded. Dianne Warren calls people repeatedly when she wants them to record one of her songs, so I figured if it worked for her it would work for me". Now he started screaming twice as loud as he had before. "DO YOU THINK I WAS BORN ARETHA FRANKLIN'S SON? I RECORDED MY OWN SONGS BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE WOULD RECORD THEM!!!! I'm tired of talking to you - put your wife on the phone!" I then buzzed Peggi, and she picked up the phone in the house. "Bye Luther, it was nice talking to you", I said and hung up. Peggi told me later Luther told her "your husband has been calling me over and over about that damned song". She told him "but it's perfect for you - you should record it". He said that "it didn't leave him enough room to adlib". What was funny to me was that years later his biggest hit "Dance With My Father" moved exactly the same way as my song did - structured without a lot of adlib room. I truly believe that if Luther had recorded my song he would have had a pop hit years earlier than he eventually did with "Father". I produced the song "Any Other Way" years later on the "Manhattans" CD "Even Now", and it has just appeared again on Will Wheaton's solo release "Old School Soul". It's a great song - I wish Luther had recorded it as well. He once came down with Fonzi Thornton to one of Peggi's gigs in LA. They sang together on the old Lionel Richie song "Jesus Is Love". It was an amazing evening! Peggi and Luther are singing the high harmony backgrounds on Irene Cara's hit record "Fame". Rest in Peace, Luther!" - Ted Perlman

"Luther "golden throat" Vandross.. gone but not forgotten.. cause there is 'never too much' of Luther.. we will miss but never ever forget ..the one that got away..he was a man of substance..passion..love for all kind. We love you Luther ..and keep a seat vacant, someday, we will all be there to join your "Choir of Love"" - Sparkie Martin

"We were coming back from a show on Friday night at one in the morning as we were all full of merriment for our successful night (my band, friends etc.). We heard on the radio the news about Luther. We were all devastated, the whole of Soul London is in grief for one of the 20th/21st century vocal stylists of all time .In my car I always have a Luther CD at hand. I straight away put on his “Live At Radio City Music Hall” which sent me back to the last show I saw of Luther’s . It was at Wembley Arena where he put on a superlative show, slick, cool and one of the things that stood out was you could hear his lyrics, his voice, his tone, his feel, the backing singers, the band everything was PURE PERFECTION and you could hear it all! Clearly as opposed to a group who will be nameless who used computer music, sang and danced while their vocals were singing and there mouths were not to which I had been DRAGGED a previous day. Luther Vandross has left us with a legacy of his music: his collaborations with Change, Aretha, Diana, Dionne and even recently with Beyonce. He made “A House Is Not A Home” (previously a Dionne Warwick song) his very own classic in its own right today . The first time I met Luther was at the Dominion Theatre, London after one of his gigs in the ‘80’s. We had just had a hit with my group Imagination with the song 'Just An Illusion'. He was sitting with one of his backing singers Tawatha Agee and I introduced myself and straight away he began singing our song and I just stood in awe. I couldn’t believe it - Luther knew who we were, it was a golden moment and memory .We chatted and even got to hang out with his band especially his drummer Yogi Horton (also now passed). A STRONG part of our musical upbringing has come from Luther who like the greats before him Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Nat King Cole he now STANDS in this Hall of Fame THE VOICE OF LOVE . MR LUTHER VANDROSS. In our thoughts and prayers could we also remember OBIE BENSON of the famous fab Four Tops whose contribution through being part of Hitsville USA - Motown Records was part of a legacy which speaks through all the hits the Four Tops had. One thing about music: its’ history is there to tell the story within, the songs , the grooves, melodies and lives on longer than all of us . Let us not grieve but CELEBRATE THE music of MR LUTHER VANDROSS and MR OBIE BENSON of the 4TOPS, Many thanks, xxxx peace and luvvvv." - Leee John (former lead singer of the group Imagination). London, England

"I met Luther at Fordham University's Upward Bound program. I was a member of his first group, The Shades of Jade, appeared with him on Sesame Street w/ Listen My Brother, and traveled with him for many years as his choreographer and lighting director.

We had watched the amateur competition at The Apollo every Wednesday night for almost a year. Now it was our turn to shine. With the fat boy singing lead, we thought we had a good enough chance to win; he was our secret weapon. Nevertheless, fear ruled the evening. This was because we had seen performers, who did have talent, get booed off the stage for one reason or another, often times unexplainable. When one got booed, a siren would sound, and unlike on TV, a man wearing a dress would come out from stage left and shoot the startled entertainer with a real gun. There were blanks in it, of course, but that did not make it any less frightening. I am sure that getting booed at this Harlem theater was enough to make a person quickly return to his or her day job. Our nervousness was indeed justified.

And so we (known as The Shades of Jade) humbly walked out on The Apollo stage, touched the tree of life, and presented our very own rendition of an Ojays’ song, “I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow.” Luther sang his heart out, and Fonzi, Brenda, Gayle, and myself, harmonized our little asses off. The stage lights were bright, so much so that it was impossible to see anything. The heat from the lamps had us all sweating profusely. The audience was quiet, barely breathing. We had rehearsed the song for months, but then something happened that we had not planned. While belting out his final note, Big Lu, as though in a trance, dropped down to his knees. At the same time, the entire crowd, caught up in this display of emotion, stood up and cheered; we left the stage confident that we had won.

Much to our chagrin, the expression, ”Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” became a reality. A group of handsome guys from Washington appeared next on the bill. They wore tailor-made white suits and sang,” Old Man River,” imitating the choreography and vocals of The Temptations. We sounded original, and they sounded exactly like the most popular male group at that time. Second place, however, turned out to be a blessing, for it inspired us to work harder. With the bitter taste of defeat still lingering, we made a vow that our tomorrow would be much sweeter. It was.

What I want to talk about now is a particular song that he sang. "A House Is Not A Home," originally sung by Dionne Warwick, quickly became Luther's signature piece, especially in concert. This was because he did not just sing the song; he became the song. From his first note, he would demonstrate what pacing and concentration in its highest form was really all about. I used to watch as LV extracted every ounce of emotion that his body could muster up and injected into his personal interpretation of that magnificent Hal David/Burt Bacharach song. He always requested that the room begin in total darkness with just a single dim spotlight. This was so that he could create a mood of loneliness, and his fans, undistracted, could zero in on his skillful ability to tell the story of a love lost. Like an experienced boxer who slowly beats his opponent into submission, Luther, with an awesome display of subtle vocal nuances would compel his listeners to empathize with his apparent turmoil.

Since the lighting board was very often planted in the thick of the crowd, I was privileged to have the opportunity to observe the responses of countless audiences. This was truly fascinating, for try as they did, to remain quiet during the entire song, it was virtually impossible. I would watch out of the corners of my eyes, as his fans would go through a full spectrum of reactions while clinging onto his every breath, his every note. I saw both men and women cry, scream, and cheer uncontrollably. I witnessed couples holding hands, hugging each other, and even kissing passionately. Young girls would often faint. Young men would stand up and holler compliments. Older fans would frequently wave their hands in the air as if they were in church being possessed by the Holy Spirit.

It was the final refrain, however, that was the TKO. Anticipation would increase as Luther vocally climbed the stairs and turned the key, hoping and pleading for his true love's return. And everyone, myself included, was hoping too. We all wished that whatever he had done wrong in his affair would be forgiven and that his girl would miraculously appear on stage and rush into his waiting arms. Unfortunately this never happened. But fortunately what did happen (and it happened every night) was a well-deserved standing ovation. Yes, Luther had the power to lift an entire audience out of their world of blaring realities into his world of emotional fantasy. This was genuine talent, and I watched that talent grow with every show. He and I had already come a long way from the Bronx, and I was very, very proud of him and proud to be a small part of his success.

So as not to distract but to enhance the final refrain of House Is Not a Home, we decided to experiment with special effects. These were always executed with extreme care. In the beginning it was just a rear projection of a window on a plain white screen. As time went on, we hung a real window and lowered it at that same point in the song. This escalated to lowering two windows with soft magenta lights, crisscrossing slowly to reveal their presence. Then it was a door and two windows in front of a light lavender backdrop. Finally, a fireplace and one empty living room chair climaxed the song. All of these effects were designed to heighten the theatrical experience and served to send his already satisfied fans into further frenzy.

As Lu moved into the headlining spot, a full set was added. This included two lushly carpeted giant staircases that ran down both sides of the stage. They were joined in the middle by a platform supporting a real opening and closing door. By this time, he had recorded If This World Were Mine, a remake of the Marvin and Tammi hit, and Cheryl Lynn made her entrance through the door, descended the stairs, and ended up in a center stage embrace with our headliner. The set also had the ability to change from a nightclub to a living room at the touch of a button.

We soon added to the on stage cast as well. Sheryl, a classically trained dancer, danced on top of Nat’s grand piano during Superstar. This went over very big as our strikingly beautiful ballerina gave the audience a taste of real modern and jazz combinations and brought her own brand of elegance to this former Karen Carpenter number. Then came the addition of two male breakdancers who did much more than break dance. One of them hailed from a popular dance group called The Lockers. This was the group that the late great comedian, Rerun (of the hit series, Good Times) originated from. Luther's friend, Shabadoo, also from that group, sent him to an audition that I held in Los Angeles, and I picked him immediately. Shab, at that time, had his own summer series on network TV that was quite a feat for any dancer, much less a breaker. Then one day as Big Lu and I watched Star Search, we saw a dancer called Showtime, poppin’ and lockin’ and doin’ his thing. The style he exuded was so unique that we decided to do our own star search. We found this righteous brother in Brooklyn and hired him with the quickness. The three dancers served many functions in the show. Sometimes they would escort the singers up and down the staircases or slow drag with them on some of Luther's romantic ballads. They would also make unexpected appearances dressed as different characters (i.e., butlers, a maid, detectives) and were valuable assets to the show. Maybe it came from seeing or being in plays at Fordham or later becoming fans of Broadway shows such as Dreamgirls (which LV and I saw too many times to count) that we were both on the same page as far as how to present his show. Before we knew it, we had created a full-scale production. The New York Times praised the show as being “a comfortable mixture of soul music and pageantry”. But to be perfectly honest though, Luther Vandross could have stood on the stage in his pajamas under the single beam of a flashlight while singing The Star-spangled Banner, and crowds would have still flocked to see him." - Bruce Wallace

"What do I say about someone who made such an impact in my life? Well...I thought a last letter to Luther telling him exactly the impact he had on my life was the best way. As hard as it is to put into words how I feel right now, I certainly hope that I at least convey how important he was to me, as well as the music community.

Dear Luther,

I can't tell you what an honor it has been for me to call you my Hero. From the first time I was blessed to have been touched by the words and music to "Any Love," to the last time I was able to spend time with you in person, you have so much inspired me to pursue my own dream of a career in music and also have been a personal mentor.

When I was 14 years old and setting in a space in my life that had no direction, no clarity, no light in sight; it was the song "Any Love" that you and Marcus Miller (thank you too!) wrote that pierced me in such a way that it opened my eyes and heart and let me see some of those demons that I needed to confront. As I described to you, it seemed very much akin to your experience of seeing Dionne Warwick for the first time. As with you, it was that very day I decided that I would make music my life's ambition and career choice, albeit the business side of the industry. And so I did just that...with many an eyebrow raised, with the certain doubts that come from those around you who think that you are “just a kid dreaming about something that would never come true”…I accomplished it. What a wonderful feeling it is for me to be able to say that. Even more wonderful was that I was able to spend time with you to personally convey that. Dreams truly DO come true!

I want to thank you for being the vehicle for that inspiration. Thank you for not running over me when I chased you down Rodeo Drive and made you get out of the car and speak to me. Thank you for being so accommodating and sharing your own story of how you chased Patti LaBelle down the street after an Apollo show. Thank you for sharing your perspective on life, love and music with me personally as well as the world. But most of all, thank you for following your own dreams and leaving something for this earth to treasure until the end time.

I, as will many, miss your style, your class, your talent and your soul…cuz no one does it quite like you do. I know those gates have opened and welcomed you with a thousand times as much love and adoration as we all here, have for you.

To Luther’s Family: My deepest condolences and blessings to you all. Thanks for sharing him with us. Forever your fan." - Nick Di Fruscia

About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.
  

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