Al Jarreau’s death after a short hospitalization in Los Angeles has saddened music fans everywhere. TMZ reports that Jarreau’s cause of death has not yet been announced, but it is known that the 76-year-old “Boogie Down” singer was experiencing health problems recently.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the “Roof Garden” singer was in hospital to be “treated for exhaustion,” and the “Breakin’ Away” singer had canceled his upcoming tour dates and announced his retirement. Sadly, after 50 years of non-stop touring, the seven-time Grammy winner didn’t get a chance to enjoy finally taking a break. Jarreau died on Sunday, February 12, at 76-years-old.
Al was known as a deeply caring person who always wanted to use his music to help others. Variety writes that Jarreau grew up in a Milwaukee, with a religious family and a father who was a minister. The family participated in Jarreau senior’s work, and Al joined the church choir at an early age, building his singing skills for what would later become a stellar music career. Jarreau’s hit songs were a second career, and a means to an end for the “We’re in This Love Together” singer.
Before Al became a singer, he went to university and earned a masters degree in psychology. After graduation, Jarreau worked briefly as a social worker before moving to Los Angeles to become a singer. Al’s interest in the helping professions inspired him throughout his music career.
“He will be missed. His 2nd priority in life was music. There was no 3rd. His 1st priority, far ahead of the other, was healing or comforting anyone in need. Whether it was emotional pain, or physical discomfort, or any other cause of suffering, he needed to put our minds at ease and our hearts at rest. He needed to see a warm, affirming smile where there had not been one before. Song was just his tool for making that happen.”
In recent years, Al’s health deteriorated although he continued to perform while battling “respiratory and cardiac issues.” Even in the hospital, Al was a healer for others. While Jarreau was in the hospital coping with increasing illness, he found time to sing his hit theme song from the television show, Moonlighting, for his nurses. Al also wrote the lyrics to the audience favorite.
Jarreau’s music crossed many styles, from “jazz to R&B and soul music,” and he was the “the only vocalist to win Grammys in the jazz, pop, and R&B categories.” Jarreau’s hits included the crowd favorites, “Boogie Down” and “Roof Garden,” along with many, many other songs that reached people of all walks of life.
After first catching the world’s attention with his 1975 album “We Got By” and two follow-up albums, “Glow” and “Look to the Rainbow,” Jarreau had his big breakthrough with “Breakin’ Away,” the album that took Al to the top ten. In 1987, the comedy-drama mystery television series Moonlighting brought Jarreau’s music to a whole new audience. The series starred Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as private detectives and showcased Al’s theme song of the same name. Moonlighting made Jarreau a household name to the series’ many fans.
Jarreau was already a huge name in the jazz and pop world, and he’d appeared along with many other stars in “We are the World,” the United Support of Artists for Africa charity single release in 1985. Al was one of the featured vocalists, “right between Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen.”
Jarreau is survived by his wife, Susan, and son Ryan. R.I.P., Al Jarreau.
[Featured Image by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images]