"Can you hear me?" - "Yes Luther, and very nice it is too."
Luther Vandross and David Bowie do it live, late 1974.
Doing it, doing it right...
In a recent posting from the UK's Mail on Sunday on the MBs by BowieNetter Dukebox, Luther Vandross talked about his first meeting with David Bowie during the making of 'Young Americans'. For those that missed it, it's worth repeating here:
"My big break came at 23. I had been struggling as a musician since leaving college when, in 1974, I went to visit a high school friend called Carlos Alomar in Philadelphia. At the time, he was playing for a strange young Englishman called David Bowie who wore make-up and sometimes even dresses.
One day while I was chatting to Carlos's wife, I improvised a line from the album's title track, Young Americans, the way I thought it should be sung. Bowie overheard me and asked Carlos who I was. Then he asked me whether I would sing the musical phrase again in front of a microphone. After that Bowie decided to use me for the vocal arrangements of the whole album.
Once Young Americans was finished I was asked to tour with Bowie, singing backing vocals and using my own material to open the show. On the first night, at the Universal Ampitheatre in Los Angeles, Diana Ross was in the front row."
While Luther undoubtedly did some of the vocal arrangements, those of you who have seen the 'Cracked Actor' documentary will know that he certainly didn't work out "the vocal arrangements of the whole album"...Remember that scene where an apologetic young Bowie is making sure the backing singers are thoroughly rehearsed for their parts in that brilliant section in 'Right'? Well I think it's obvious who's in control there. Talented little skinny-assed white boy knew his stuff alright!
Thanks again for the pointer Dukebox.