Dear Summer
Monday Madness: 5 For The '05

Here And Gone

(A Love Deluxe: Luther Vandross)

Boy, what a sad start to the 4th of July weekend.

Luther Vandross (1951-2005)

Legendary soul crooner Luther Vandross died Friday at a hospital in Edison, N.J., as a result of complications from a stroke he suffered in April 2003. He was 54 years old. Born Luther Ronzoni Vandross in New York in 1951, he serenaded audiences with his smooth-as-silk voice and romantic ballads. Ruben Studdard -- who some say is the heir apparent to Luther's love throne -- was saddened to hear of Luther's passing. "Luther was a big influence on me," he told "I'm blessed to be able to have seen him do his thing and have him influence me musically. I love him. He has been and continues to be a great inspiration to me. He will be truly missed." In Luther's 30-year music career, he earned eight Grammys and sold an estimated 30 million records. Luther's hits included the romantic ballads "Never Too Much," "A House Is Not a Home" and "Here and Now."

I couldn't possibly write a tribute worthy for your eyes. But, for me, Luther Vandross was (and still is) the classiest love crooner in the music game. There will never be another singer like him, ever. Journalist/historian Nelson George pays tribute to LV HERE. Music man EJ Flavors pays tribute to the singer on his radio blog. Take a LISTEN.

And in Detroit . . .

(Four Tops Singer) Renaldo "Obie" Benson (1935-2005)

Original Four Tops bass singer Renaldo "Obie" Benson passed away at a Detroit hospital on Friday. The singer died of lung cancer; he was 69 year old. Although for weeks Obie had been ill, his death did not come as a surprise to family members and friends. "He had a very good heart," said Obie's ex-wife Valaida. "After the divorce he was still a wonderful father and loved his children very much. We were still friends through it all." Levi Stubbs and Abdul "Duke" Fakir now remain as the two surviving members of the Four Tops, who have recorded such hits as "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" and "I Can't Help Myself."

R.I.P. Luther and Obie.