Luther Vandross was an American soul and R&B singer who became famous for his “Velvet Voice.” He was born on April 20, 1951, in Manhattan, New York, as Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr. Even at a young age, Vandross showed an interest in music and taught himself to play the piano by ear. Growing up, the aspiring singer was inspired by Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. When Vandross was in high school, he established the first Patti Labelle fan club.
During the 1970s, Vandross worked as a backing vocalist and sang for many artists including Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and Donna Summer. In 1979, the singer joined the group “Change” and released a certified album titled, “The Glow of Love.” Unfortunately, Vandross’ tenure with the group was brief and he quickly embarked on a solo career. By 1981, the singer released his debut solo album, “Never Too Much” which was an instant hit.
Vandross spawned many hit singles throughout his career, most often covering songs from other established artists. Some of his famous tracks include “Here And Now,” “Any Love,” and “Endless Love” which was a duet with another legendary singer, Mariah Carey. When Vandross passed away in 2005, a tribute album was released posthumously titled “So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross.”
With a career spanning several decades, it’s not surprising that Vandross has his fair share of scandals, controversies, and speculations. From questions surrounding his sexuality to the tragic car crash that took his friend’s life, the singer had plenty of lifetime experiences. In today’s feature, we’ll answer the most anticipated question of all: was Luther Vandross gay? Here’s why the R&B singer never married.
VOTE: What was Luther Vandross’ Sexuality?
Luther Vandross’ Sexuality
It’s important to note that Vandross never married and had no children. Apparently, it was an open secret in the entertainment industry that the singer was gay. No word ever got out because Vandross was deeply in the closet and had little to no sexual affairs. However, sources did share that the singer wanted a committed relationship with someone. There were also rumors that Vandross was living with another man which was considered to be his longest romantic relationship. Unfortunately, no details were ever confirmed.
In December 1985, Vandross sued a magazine for libel after it claimed that his drastic weight loss was due to an AIDS-related sickness. During this time, the public still wasn’t aware of the singer’s other health battles. This fight was crucial especially because there was a strong stigma against AIDS patients during the 1980s. Thankfully, it was clarified that Vandross did not have the illness.
Vandross’ true sexuality only came to light years after his death. In 2017, the singer’s idol and close friend, Patti LaBelle confirmed in an interview that Vandross was indeed gay. According to LaBelle, Vandross kept his sexuality a secret because coming out meant putting an end to his career. The singer was aware that he had millions of female fans who had a certain image of him and had set emotional expectations. Vandross didn’t want to “upset the world” so he kept his true self hidden.
The 1986 Infamous Car Crash
On January 12, 1986, Vandross was involved in a fatal car crash that killed his friend, Larry Salvemini. According to reports, Vandross was driving a 1985 Mercedes-Benz at 50 mph while in a 35mph zone. The car collided with a 1972 Mercury Marquis and then hit another car head-on. Larry was killed upon impact while Vandross and Jimmy Salvenmini, Larry’s brother, were rushed to the nearest hospital.
Vandross suffered broken ribs, bruises, and cuts. On the other hand, Jimmy had cuts and contusions. The singer was charged with vehicular manslaughter and his license was revoked for a year. The court didn’t find any trace of alcohol or drugs in Vandross’ system and the singer pleaded no contest to reckless driving. Later on, the Salvemini family filed a wrongful death suit against Vandross which was settled out of court.
Was Luther Vandross Gay?
Yes, Luther Vandross was gay. The singer was in the closet his entire life and his true sexuality was only revealed after his death by his friend, Patti LaBelle. Vandross never married and didn’t have children. There were rumors of romantic partners but these claims were never confirmed either.