When Vandross was 8, his father died of diabetes.
Luther attended college for about a year, but dropped out to focus on his music. He founded the first-ever Patti LaBelle fan club, worked for Roberta Flack in 1972 and sang on Delores Hall’s Hall-Mark album in 1973.
Within a short period, Vandross was singing backing vocals for Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Gary Glitter, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic and Barbra Streisand.
In 1980, Vandross made a career breakthrough as a featured singer with Change, a studio concept pop-dance act. Their group had several hits with Vandross as the featured singer, including “The Glow of Love” and “Searching.” During the 1980s, Vandross released a series of successful R&B albums and had two singles that reached number one on the Billboard R&B charts: “Stop to Love,” in 1986 and a duet with Gregory Hines: “There’s Nothing Better Than Love.”
In 1985, Vandross sang background in Stevie Wonder’s hit “Part Time Lovers.”
In 1990, Vandross wrote and sang background for Whitney Houston on “Why Do You Love?” which appeared on her “I’m Your Baby Tonight” album.
In 1994, Vandross made it to the Top 10 again with Mariah Carey on a cover version of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’s duet “Endless Love.” At the Grammy Awards of 1997, he won his third Best Male R&B vocal for the track “Your Secret Love.” Also during that year, he sang the national anthem during the Super bowl at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
In 2003, Vandross released the album “Dance with my Father,” which earned him his fourth and final Grammy/ in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance category. “Dance with my Father” became Vandross’s only record to hit number one on the cahrts. It was his biggest selling studio album ever, selling nearly 3 million copies in the United States. The title track won the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of th Year.
Vandross, who was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, suffered a stroke at his home in Manhattan. He made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show a short time later, talking about his health problems.
Vandross died on July 1, 2005 of a heart attack at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison. It was the same hospital where Robert Hegyes, Epstein from “Welcome Back, Kotter,” would die after being brought to the Emergency Room in full cardiac arrest nearly seven years later.
The funeral of Luther Vandross was held in New York City on July 8, 2005.
His final resting place is in the George Washington Memorial Cemetery in Paramus.