In celebration of what would have been R&B mastermind Luther Vandross’ 70th birthday today (April 20), Sony Music Entertainment’s catalog division Legacy Recordings reveals new RIAA certifications for four of his most memorable singles.
The quartet includes “Dance with My Father” (platinum), “Here and Now” (platinum), “Endless Love” (platinum) and “A House Is Not a Home” (gold).
In addition, Never Too Much — the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-producer’s 1981 Epic Records solo album debut — turns 40 this year. In honor of that anniversary, the video for the album’s title track and Vandross’ first solo hit (No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs; No. 33 on the Hot 100) — has been upgraded to an HD version that’s now available.
“Never Too Much” also doubles as the soundtrack for an animated Google Doodle as the site’s contribution to today’s celebration.
Acknowledging Google’s salute, the Luther Vandross Estate commented, “It is a true reflection of Luther Vandross’ musical legacy around the world to be honored by Google with an animated Doodle that fittingly captures the joy Luther has brought the world. Luther made each of his songs about one simple, universal subject — love; an emotion and feeling common to the human experience no matter who you are, where you’re from or what you look like. No one else has expressed this emotion in song to the level Luther did for over 35 years, and to have Google broadcast that around the world is a wonderful showcase of his immeasurable talent.”
Peaking at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 19 on the Billboard 200, Never Too Much also includes a cover of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David composition “A House Is Not a Home.” Originally recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1964, the newly minted RIAA gold single is the aforementioned album’s only song not written by Vandross whose seven-minute version of the song became one of his all-time classics. Setting the stage for Vandross’ velvety, elegant tenor and subsequent stardom, Never Too Much earned the singer his first two Grammy Award nominations: best new artist and best male R&B vocal performance.
Of the three newly platinum-certified singles, 1989’s “Here and Now” gave Vandross his first Grammy for best male R&B vocal performance. Prior to that, the track became the singer’s fifth No. 1 R&B single and first top 10 hit (No. 6) on the Hot 100. That was followed in 1994 by another signature cover: his duet with Mariah Carey on “Endless Love.” Initially made famous by its writer Lionel Richie and Diana Ross in 1991, the Vandross/Carey reinterpretation reached No. 2 on the Hot 100. Certified gold in October 1994, “Endless Love” was nominated for a Grammy the next year in the newly-created category best pop collaboration with vocals.
In remembrance of the singer’s late dad, “Dance with My Father” is the title track from Vandross’ 2003 final studio album. The singer’s first and only album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, it also became his eighth No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Co-written with Richard Marx, “Dance with My Father” won Grammys for song of the year and best male R&B vocal performance in 2004 before being certified gold the following year.
Vandross passed away at the age of 54 on July 1, 2005.