Grammy-Winning Jazz Singer Al Jarreau Dies at 76
Al Jarreau, a Grammy-winning jazz singer known as the “acrobat of scat,” has died. He was 76.
The seven-time Grammy winner’s career spanned five decades and was most known for his 1981 single “We’re in This Love Together,” and the theme song of the TV show “Moonlighting,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Jarreau’s death comes just days after announcing he was retiring from touring because of exhaustion, according to his official Twitter page.
One day later, a tweet was sent out from his account that the singer was “recovering slowly and steadily” after being hospitalized.
Jarreau died in a hospital in Los Angeles Sunday surrounded by his wife, son and a few friends, Jarreau’s agent told the Times. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and son, Ryan.
Alwyn Lopez Jarreau was born March 12, 1940 in Milwaukee. His was a musical household.
“My mother was a piano teacher and church organist. My dad was a minister, and a singer,” Jarreau said in a 2012 interview with “All About Jazz.” “My brothers were singing quartet music in the living room when I was four and five years old. They were singing … [scatting]…stuff like that, that’s what I wanted to be like. I wanted to be like my brothers, singing this jazzy music.”
After earning a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa, Jarreau moved to San Francisco in the late 1960s, where after crossing paths with a young pianist — and future jazz legend himself — named George Duke, he decided to quit his day job and pursue music full time with the George Duke Trio.
After gaining traction in the Bay Area, Jarreau headed to New York, where, playing alongside guitarist Julio Martinez, he began to reach a wider audience. This led to appearances on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” and other TV gigs.
He eventually moved to Los Angeles where he was signed a recording contract with Warner Bros., Ebony magazine reported.
He was 35 years old when he released his first album in 1975 and won the first of his seven Grammy Awards just two years later, according to the Washington Post.
Mainstream pop success followed in 1981 with the album “Breaking Away,” which hit the Top 10 on the Billboard charts and spawned his biggest hit, the breezy “We’re in This Love Together.”
Jarreau went on to release 16 studio albums as well as several live recordings and compilations, Ebony reported.
In 1985 Jarreau was part of an all-star lineup of musicians who sang on “We Are the World,” the hit song that raised money for famine relief in Africa. His line: “…and so we all must lend a helping hand.”
Although Jarreau never replicated his pop success of the early 1980s, many of his subsequent albums topped the contemporary jazz charts and he remained a concert draw around the world.
In 1996 he did a three-month stint on Broadway as the Teen Angel in a production of “Grease.” He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2001.
The Chicago Tribune dubbed the singer, whose eclectic style spanned multiple genres, “the voice of versatility,” according Ebony.
Condolences and tributes started pouring in on social media Sunday.
Singer Chaka Khan tweeted: “Rest in power, @AlJarreau. U were EVERYTHING Jazz & beyond.”
Actress Holly Robinson Peete tweeted “We’ve lost another music great.”