Jazz Legend Al Jarreau Dead at 76: We Look Back – Our Tribute
The internet was buzzing this morning with fans hoping it was a hoax as first reported but unfortunately we lost another big one today.
Jarreau was hospitalized for exhaustion in Los Angeles just a few days ago causing his management to announce his retirement from touring.
He was known for his Pop Hits like “We’re in This Love Together,””Mornin,’ the “Moonlighting (theme)” and R&B charters like “Breakin’ Away,””Never Givin’ Up” and his gorgeous duet with Randy Crawford “Your Precious Love.” He was one of those singers who got reviews throughout his career that implied the concert versions of this tunes sounded better vocally that the originals.
Manager, Joe Gordon, released the following statement: “Al Jarreau passed away this morning, at about 5:30am LA time.” The singer was with some family members when he passed.
He was born Alwin Lopez “Al” Jarreau on March 12, 1940. Born and raised in Milwaukee, the fifth of six children. His father was a minister and also a singer and his mother played the piano in church and often performed with her son at public events.
Jarreau was always an over-achiever. He was student council president in his high school and was elected governor in College. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. He didn’t stop there going on to earn a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa, then worked as a rehabilitation counselor in San Francisco. By night he played with a jazz trio headed by George Duke.
In 1968 Jarreau was 28 and figured he had to follow his first love full time. Soon he was enjoying the heat of Los Angeles playing at hot spots like Dino’s, The Troubadour, and Bitter End West. Word of his amazing voice and stage presence covered the town getting him lots of gigs on TV via Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, and David Frost.
It wasn’t until 1975, when Jarreau 35 that he finally recorded his first big label album “We Got By.” He had recorded a little known totally Jazz album in 1965 but it disappeared quickly. It wasn’t until 1980 that his deep diving paid off with “This Time.” There were also more heavy cats on this one including his old friend George Duke on fender Rhodes an instrument that was also played by David Foster on the project marking their first union together. Guitarist Earl Klugh was also in the fold as well as Abraham Laboriel who joined on with his first live album three years, which also gave Jarreau his first Grammy Award. Also Carlos Vega and Steve Gadd on drums. It was the album that really jelled R&B and Pop giving Jarreau his first R&B hit with “Never Givin’ Up” peaking at #26.
The early 80’s were a fruitful time for Jarreau. Guitarist Jay Graydon was in the zone as producer and the skies cleared. His next two would end up being his biggest. “Breakin Away’ from 1981 and 1983’s “Jarreau” both went platinum in the U.S. First “Breaking Away” spent two years on the Billboard 200 and peaked at #9 and featured “We’re in This Love Together,” “Teach Me Tonight” and the title tune. The album also won two Grammy’s.
That same tight L.A. pop and R&B sound was all over “Jarreau” which gave us “Mornin,” “Boogie Down,” and “I Will Be Here for You” I was just getting into radio when that album came out of the gate.
In all Jarreau won 7 Grammy’s and helped popularize scat singing and bring it to a whole new generation.
Everyone has their own memories of Jarreau. So many fans however are talking about a singer who was always smiling. Sure he was overflowing with talent but he was also a good man. Last week Al’s son said his father was singing “Moonlighting” to one of his nurses in the hospital. He knew he was in trouble but he found the time – he made the effort.
On March 6, 2001, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was married twice with an adult son Ryan.
Toto’s Steve Lukather tweeted this afternoon, “RIP Al @AlJarreau. It was an honor working with him and there was no one like him! Unreal..
Al Jarreau – We’re in this love forever. – by John Beaudin.
John Beaudin has been in major market radio (Edmonton, Vancouver & Calgary) for 33 years and a music journalist since 1989. He graduated from Broadcasting school as a news man so he would have the skills to write about the artists that inspired him since he bought his first album, “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John as a teen. In the 80’s Beaudin was the host of the syndicated radio show “The Cross Canada Report” which had two version (Rock and A/C). Beaudin was also asked to be a judge at the Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) Twice. He has anchored every position in radio including morning and afternoon drive and was a Program and Music Director for The Breeze and California 103 in Calgary. He currently hosts the popular Lovesongs at QM-FM in Vancouver and on iHeartRadio.