Jazz and R&B Singer Al Jarreau Dies at 76

Detail from the cover of Al Jarreau's 1980 album, This Time
Detail from the cover of Al Jarreau's 1980 album, This Time
Warner Bros. Records

Al Jarreau, the only singer to win Grammys in the jazz, pop and R&B categories, died Sunday, Feb. 12, in Los Angeles, according to his longtime manager, Joe Gordon, and a statement from his label, Concord Records. He was 76.

Jarreau was best known to pop fans for his 1981 hit "We're in This Love Together" and for co-writing and performing the theme song to the '80s TV series Moonlighting. Most of his work was in jazz, a career that began in the 1970s and continued right up until just a week before his death, when he was hospitalized for exhaustion.

Alwin Lopez Jarreau was born in Milwaukee in 1940 to a minister father and a church pianist mother. Although he sang in church concerts and student groups, he did not pursue a career in music until he was nearly 30, working instead until that time as a rehabilitation counselor.

After moving to Los Angeles around 1970, Jarreau began performing at clubs around the city, including Dino's, the Troubadour and the Bitter End West. He quickly became known for a unique style of scat singing that incorporated percussive sounds and imitations of various musical instruments, a talent that would earn him the nickname "the Acrobat of Scat."

More recently, Jarreau won his seventh and final Grammy in 2007 for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, for collaborating with George Benson and Jill Scott on a cover of Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child." His last studio album, My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke, was released on Concord Records in 2014.

“We feel very fortunate to have worked with Al, one of the most distinctive and extraordinary vocalists in music,” Concord Records president John Burk said via press release. “He was truly a force of nature and a beautiful human being that will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by us all.”

Gordon, Jarreau's manager, said via a brief statement that the singer's family currently has no plans for a public memorial service, and encouraged fans and well-wishers to make donations to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music in lieu of flowers and gifts.

A statement on Jarreau's website read in part: "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."


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