Singer Al Jarreau, a multiple Grammy winner known for his smooth voice and scat singing skills on jazz and R&B songs like “Breakin’ Away,” died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 76.
He had been hospitalized recently and cancelled his upcoming tour dates.
A statement on his website said in part, “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.”
The only vocalist to win Grammys in the jazz, pop, and R&B categories, his hit songs included “We’re in This Love Together,” “After All,” “Boogie Down,” “Never Givin’ Up,” and the theme song to the TV series “Moonlighting,” for which he wrote the lyrics.
Born in Milwaukee, he was the son of a minister and started out singing in the church choir. He received a masters degree in psychology and worked as a social worker before moving to Los Angeles to become a singer.
Jarreau’s first attention came for his 1975 album “We Got By” and follow-ups “Glow” and “Look to the Rainbow.” He entered the Top Ten with “Breakin’ Away.” His hit theme to “Moonlighting” came in 1987. In 1998, Jarreau found a fresh burst of acclaim after signing to Verve/GRP in 1998, where he reunited with producer Tommy LiPuma. His 2006 album “Givin’ It Up,” recorded with George Benson, was nominated for three Grammys. He also released a holiday album, “Christmas” in 2008.
He is survived by his wife, Susan, and son Ryan.