Luther Vandross Said Critical After Stroke
Tue Apr 22, 1:31 PM ET Add Health – Reuters to My Yahoo!
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Grammy-winning singer Luther Vandross, who suffered a stroke last week, is in a “critical but stable” condition, hospital officials say.
“Mr. Luther Vandross suffered a stroke on April 16 and is hospitalized at the Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital,” the hospital said in a statement on Monday. “He is in critical but stable condition.”
The hospital said it would release “no further details” on Vandross, who has battled weight and health problems for years and suffered the stroke just days before his birthday.
Famed for his silky, soulful crooning as well as for his songwriting and production prowess, Vandross turned 52 on Sunday.
Since launching his solo career in 1981, after a successful stint as a back-up vocalist for the likes of David Bowie and Bette Midler, he has sold more than 20 million records worldwide.
“There are vocalists, and then there’s Luther,” Motown singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson told Rolling Stone magazine in 1990. “Luther’s in a class by himself.”
Beginning with his 1981 album, “Never Too Much,” the first of a chain of million-sellers, an unabashed Vandross bared his soul in sophisticated ballads that bridged the divide between classic soul and contemporary slickness.
He also produced for such stars as Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston.
Unlike other male singers, Vandross eschewed a macho posture, but did not come across as wimpy, either. He established a new style that influenced such singers as Freddie Jackson, Keith Washington and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.
He became a frequent fixture on the urban music charts, but mainstream success eluded him until 1989, when he enjoyed his first Top 10 pop hit with “Here and Now,” a track tacked onto a compilation album, “The Best of Luther Vandross … The Best of Love.” That song has since become something of a classic wedding ballad.
He was sometimes called the “Love Doctor,” but Vandross did not want to be lumped in with peers who performed ladies-only shows or hauled beds out onto the stage.
“I want to be remembered as one of the premier singers of our time, not as the ‘Love Doctor’ or the ‘Master of Bedroom Music,”‘ he told Reuters in a 1996 interview.
In addition to struggling with his image, the 6-foot-3 musician also struggled with his weight, which fluctuated between 340 pounds and 190 pounds during his adult life. When he released his last record, in 2001, he was a relatively lithe 220 pounds. He also suffered from mild diabetes.
“If I’m emotionally distraught, then eating is my coping mechanism,” Vandross told Q magazine in 1991. “For what ails me, it seems to be the only thing that takes the edge off the pain.”
A year before, Vandross had appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show (news – Y! TV)” to celebrate the loss of 122 pounds on a liquid diet. But a year later, photographers were banned from shooting him below the chest.