Al Jarreau

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Al Jarreau
Jarreau performing in January 1981
Background information
Birth nameAlwin Lopez Jarreau
Born(1940-03-12)March 12, 1940
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedFebruary 12, 2017(2017-02-12) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1967–2017
Associated acts

Alwin Lopez Jarreau (March 12, 1940 – February 12, 2017) was an American singer and musician. He received a total of seven Grammy Awards and was nominated for over a dozen more. Jarreau is perhaps best known for his 1981 album Breakin' Away . He also sang the theme song of the 1980s television series Moonlighting , and was among the performers on the 1985 charity song "We Are the World."

Grammy Award Accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The trophy depicts a gilded gramophone. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

<i>Breakin Away</i> (album) 1981 studio album by Al Jarreau

Breakin' Away is an album by Al Jarreau, released on June 30, 1981, through the Warner Bros. Records label. To quote Allmusic, "Breakin' Away became the standard bearer of the L.A. pop and R&B sound."

"Moonlighting" is the theme song to the ABC comedy-crime drama of the same name, which ran from 1985 to 1989 and starred Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. The theme song was performed by Al Jarreau, who wrote the song with Lee Holdridge; it was produced by Nile Rodgers. Included on the soundtrack album for the series and released as a single in 1987, the song reached number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent one week at number one on the Adult Contemporary chart. In 1988 the song earned two Grammy Award nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and for Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television.


Early life and career

Al Jarreau during a concert in Germany in early 1981 AlJarreauEarly1980s (edited).jpg
Al Jarreau during a concert in Germany in early 1981

Jarreau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 12, 1940, [1] the fifth of six children. Jarreau's father was a Seventh-day Adventist Church minister and singer, and his mother was a church pianist. Jarreau and his family sang together in church concerts and in benefits, and he and his mother performed at PTA meetings. [2]

Milwaukee Largest city in Wisconsin

Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the fifth-largest city in the Midwestern United States. The seat of the eponymous county, it is on Lake Michigan's western shore. Ranked by its estimated 2014 population, Milwaukee was the 31st largest city in the United States. The city's estimated population in 2017 was 595,351. Milwaukee is the main cultural and economic center of the Milwaukee metropolitan area which had a population of 2,043,904 in the 2014 census estimate. It is the third-most densely populated metropolitan area in the Midwest, surpassed only by Chicago and Detroit, respectively. Milwaukee is considered a Gamma global city as categorized by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network with a regional GDP of over $105 billion.

Wisconsin U.S. state in the United States

Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States, in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin is the 23rd largest state by total area and the 20th most populous. The state capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The state is divided into 72 counties.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Protestant Christian church founded in 1863

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and it was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church.

Jarreau was student council president and Badger Boys State delegate for Lincoln High School. At Boys State, he was elected governor. [3] Jarreau went on to attend Ripon College, where he also sang with a group called the Indigos. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. [1] Two years later, in 1964, he earned a master's degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa. Jarreau also worked as a rehabilitation counselor in San Francisco, and moonlighted with a jazz trio headed by George Duke. In 1967, he joined forces with acoustic guitarist Julio Martinez. [4] The duo became the star attraction at a small Sausalito night club called Gatsby's. This success contributed to Jarreau's decision to make professional singing his life and full-time career. [5]

Student council Student organization acting like a governing body in some respects

A student council is a curricular or extracurricular activity for students within elementary and secondary schools around the world. These councils are present in most public and private K-12 school systems across the United States, Canada, Greece, Australia and Asia. Student councils often serve to engage students in learning about democracy and leadership, as originally espoused by John Dewey in Democracy and Education (1917).

Ripon College (Wisconsin) Liberal arts college in Ripon, Wisconsin

Ripon College is a private liberal arts college in Ripon, Wisconsin. As of fall 2018, Ripon College's student body stood at around 800, the majority of whom live on campus. Students come from 14 nations and 33 states, and 53% are female while 47% are male. Nearly 70% of students are Wisconsin residents.

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.


1986: Jarreau in concert in West Berlin. Al Jarreau im ICC Berlin 1986.jpg
1986: Jarreau in concert in West Berlin.
1996: Jarreau performing at the Molde International Jazz Festival. Al Jarreau Molde.jpg
1996: Jarreau performing at the Molde International Jazz Festival.
2006: Jarreau in Wroclaw. Al Jarreau Poland Wroclaw June 25 2006 Photo Cezary M. Kruk.jpg
2006: Jarreau in Wrocław.
2008: Jarreau in Kiev. AX Al Jarreau Kiev 20081019a.jpg
2008: Jarreau in Kiev.

In 1968, Jarreau made jazz his primary occupation. In 1969, Jarreau and Martinez headed south, where Jarreau appeared at Dino's, The Troubadour, and Bitter End West. Television exposure came from Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Dinah Shore, and David Frost. He expanded his nightclub appearances, performing at The Improv between the acts of such rising stars as Bette Midler, Jimmie Walker, and John Belushi. [6] During this period, he became involved with the United Church of Religious Science and the Church of Scientology. Also, roughly at the same time, he began writing his own lyrics, finding that his Christian spirituality began to influence his work. [2]

Johnny Carson American talk show host and comedian

John William Carson was an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He is best known as the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992). Carson received six Emmy Awards, the Television Academy's 1980 Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.

Mike Douglas Entertainer, talk show host

Michael Delaney Dowd Jr., known as Mike Douglas, was an American "Big Band" era singer, entertainer, television talk show host, and actor.

Merv Griffin 20h-century American singer and television game show producer

Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. was an American television host and media mogul. He began his career as a radio and big band singer who went on to appear in film and on Broadway. From 1965 to 1986, Griffin hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show. He also created the internationally popular game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune through his television production companies, Merv Griffin Enterprises and Merv Griffin Entertainment.

In 1975, Jarreau was working with pianist Tom Canning when he was spotted by Warner Bros. Records. On Valentine's Day 1976 he sang on the thirteenth episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live , that week hosted by Peter Boyle. [7] Soon he released his critically acclaimed debut album, We Got By, which catapulted him to international fame and won an Echo Award (the German equivalent of the Grammys in the United States). A second Echo Award would follow with the release of his second album, Glow. [8] In 1978, he won his first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for his album, Look To The Rainbow. [9]

<i>Saturday Night Live</i> American late-night live television sketch comedy show

Saturday Night Live is an American late-night live television variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC's Saturday Night. The show's comedy sketches, which often parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members. Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers the opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast as with featured performances by a musical guest. An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!", properly beginning the show.

Peter Boyle American actor

Peter Lawrence Boyle Jr. was an American actor and comedian. Known as a character actor, he played Frank Barone on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and the comical monster in Mel Brooks' film spoof Young Frankenstein (1974). He also starred in The Candidate. Boyle, who won an Emmy Award in 1996 for a guest-starring role on the science-fiction drama The X-Files, won praise in both comedic and dramatic parts following his breakthrough performance in the 1970 film Joe.

The Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male was an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to male recording artists for quality jazz vocal performances. Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".

One of Jarreau's most commercially successful albums is Breakin' Away (1981), which includes the hit song "We're in This Love Together". He won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for Breakin' Away. [10] In 1984, his single "After All" reached 69 on the US Hot 100 chart and number 26 on the R&B chart. It was especially popular in the Philippines. His last big hit was the Grammy-nominated theme to the 1980s American television show Moonlighting , for which he wrote the lyrics. Among other things, he was well known for his extensive use of scat singing (for which he was called "Acrobat of Scat" [11] ), and vocal percussion. He was also a featured vocalist on USA for Africa's "We Are the World" in which he sang the line, "...and so we all must lend a helping hand." Another charitable media event, HBO's Comic Relief, featured him in a duet with Natalie Cole singing the song "Mr. President", written by Joe Sterling, Mike Loveless, and Ray Reach. [12]

Were in This Love Together

"We're in This Love Together" is a 1981 hit song by Al Jarreau. It was the first of three single releases from his fifth studio album, Breakin' Away. The song was his first and biggest chart hit.

<i>Billboard</i> Hot 100 Song chart in U.S

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

The Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart ranks the most popular R&B and hip hop songs in the United States and is published weekly by Billboard. Rankings are based on a measure of radio airplay, sales data, and streaming activity. The chart had 100 positions but was shortened to 50 positions in October 2012.

Jarreau took an extended break from recording in the 1990s. As he explained in an interview with Jazz Review : "I was still touring, in fact, I toured more than I ever had in the past, so I kept in touch with my audience. I got my symphony program under way, which included my music and that of other people too, and I performed on the Broadway production of Grease . I was busier than ever! For the most part, I was doing what I have always done...perform live. I was shopping for a record deal and was letting people know that there is a new album coming. I was just waiting for the right label (Verve), but I toured more than ever." [13] In 2003, Jarreau and conductor Larry Baird collaborated on symphony shows around the United States, with Baird arranging additional orchestral material for Jarreau's shows. [14] [15] [16]

Jarreau toured and performed with Joe Sample, Chick Corea, Kathleen Battle, Gregor Praecht, Miles Davis, George Duke, David Sanborn [17] Rick Braun, and George Benson. He also performed the role of the Teen Angel in a 1996 Broadway production of Grease. On March 6, 2001, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue. [18] In 2006, Jarreau appeared in a duet with American Idol finalist Paris Bennett during the Season 5 finale and on Celebrity Duets singing with actor Cheech Marin. In 2010, Jarreau was a guest on a Eumir Deodato album, with the song "Double Face" written by Jarreau, Deodato, and Nicolosi. The song was produced by the Italian company Nicolosi Productions. On February 16, 2012, he was invited to the famous Italian Festival di Sanremo to sing with the Italian group Matia Bazar.

Personal life

Jarreau was married twice. Jarreau and Phyllis Hall were married from 1964 until their divorce in 1968. [5] [11] Jarreau's second wife was model Susan Elaine Player, who was fourteen years his junior. They were married from 1977 until his death in 2017 and had a son. [19] In 2009, children's author Carmen Rubin published the story Ashti Meets Birdman Al, inspired by Jarreau's music. [20] He wrote the foreword for the book and read from it across the world. Al and Carmen worked together to promote literacy and the importance of keeping music alive in children.

Illness and death

It was reported on July 23, 2010, that Jarreau was critically ill at a hospital in France, after performing in Barcelonnette, and was being treated for respiratory problems and cardiac arrhythmias. [21] [22] Jarreau was conscious, in stable condition, and in the cardiology unit of La Timone hospital in Marseille, the Marseille Hospital Authority said. He remained there for about a week for tests. [23]

In June 2012, Jarreau was diagnosed with pneumonia, which caused him to cancel several concerts in France. [24] Jarreau made a full recovery and continued to tour extensively for the next 5 years until February 2017. [25] [26]

On February 8, 2017, after being hospitalized for exhaustion in Los Angeles, Jarreau cancelled his remaining 2017 tour dates. [27] On that date, the Montreux Jazz Academy, part of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, announced Jarreau would not return as a mentor to ten young artists, as he had done in 2015. [28] [29]

On February 12, 2017, Jarreau died of respiratory failure, at the age of 76, just two days after announcing his retirement, and one month before his 77th birthday. [11] [30] [31]

He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), not far from his longtime friend George Duke.


Charting singles

YearSongPeak chart positions [36] [37] [38]
1976"Rainbow in Your Eyes"92x
1977"Take Five"91x
1978"Thinkin' About It Too"55x
"Gimme What You Go"63x
"Never Givin' Up"26x
1981"We're in This Love Together"1566x15524
1982"Breakin' Away"4325x
"Teach Me Tonight"7051x
"Your Precious Love"
(with Randy Crawford)
"Roof Garden"x34134
1983"Boogie Down"779x632330136
"Mornin'" (credited as Jarreau)2162x3282426119
"Trouble in Paradise"6366x36
1984"After All"69266x
1985"Day By Day"
(with Shakatak)
"Raging Waters"42x
1986"L Is for Lover"42x
"Tell Me What I Gotta Do"37x
"The Music of Goodbye"16x
1987"Tell Me What I Gotta Do"x99
1988"So Good"2x
1989"All of My Love"69x
"All or Nothing at All"59x
1992"Blue Angel"74x
"It's Not Hard to Love You"36x
(with George Benson)
2007"Ordinary People"23
2009"Winter Wonderland"21
2012"Double Face"23
2014"Bring Me Joy"5
2018"All One"17
"—" denotes the release did not chart. "x" denotes the chart did not exist at the time.

Soundtrack inclusions

Guest appearances

Awards and nominations

Grammy Awards

Year AwardedNominee/workCategoryResultRef.
1978 Look to the Rainbow Best Jazz Vocal Performance Won [39] [40]
1979 All Fly HomeWon [41]
1981 "Never Givin' Up" Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Nominated [42] [43]
In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record (featuring various artists) Best Recording for Children Won
1982 Breakin' Away Album of the Year (shared with Jay Graydon)Nominated [44]
Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Won
"(Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo à la Turk" Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male Won
1984 Jarreau Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) (for Jay Graydon)Nominated [45] [46]
Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical (for Ian Eales, Jay Graydon & Eric Prestis)Nominated
"Mornin'" Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) (for David Foster, Jay Graydon & Jeremy Lubbock)Nominated
"Step by Step" Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) (shared with Tom Canning, Jay Graydon & Jerry Hey)Nominated
1985 "Edgartown Groove" (featuring Kashif) Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated [47]
1986 We Are the World (as a part of USA for Africa featuring various artists) Album of the Year (shared with Quincy Jones)Nominated [48]
"We Are the World" (as a part of USA for Africa) Record of the Year (shared with Quincy Jones)Won
Song of the Year (for Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie)Won
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals (shared with Quincy Jones)Won
Best Music Video, Short Form (shared with Quincy Jones & Tom Trbovich)Won
High Crime Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Nominated
1987 "Since I Fell for You"Nominated [49]
1988 "Moonlighting (theme)" (from the TV series Moonlighting ) Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Nominated [50]
Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television (shared with Lee Holdridge)Nominated
1990 Heart's Horizon Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Nominated [51]
1993 Heaven and Earth Won [52]
1995 "Wait for the Magic"Nominated [53]
2005 Accentuate the Positive Best Jazz Vocal Album Nominated [54]
2007 "Breezin'" (featuring George Benson) Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
"God Bless the Child" (featuring George Benson & Jill Scott) Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance Won
2013 Live(featuring the Metropole Orkest) Best Jazz Vocal Album Nominated
"Spain (I Can Recall)" Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) (for Vincent Mendoza)Nominated
JumpinJazz Kids - A Swinging Jungle Tale(featuring James Murray & various artists) Best Children's Album Nominated

Hall of Fame

Year AwardedCategoryRef.
2001 Hollywood Walk of Fame [55]
2012 SoulMusic Hall of Fame at [56]

Honorary degrees

Year AwardedDegreeUniversityRef.
1991Honorary Doctorate of Music Berklee College of Music [57]
2004Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee [58]

Graduated Degrees

B.SC. Physical Therapy M.A. Rehabilitation Therapy

See also

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