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Al Jarreau obituary – Moonlighting singer survived by wife Susan Player and a son


Al Jarreau was one of the most versatile vocalists in our living memory. He was not the stereotypical jazz singer who knew jazz and nothing else. The winner of seven Grammy awards, the vocalist won his Grammys in different genres.

His death has left a void in the music world that cannot be filled by any of his contemporaries. It is said that Jarreau was the only vocalist who won Grammys in pop, R&B and jazz. While his initial calling was in jazz, he dabbled in everything, almost, and became as good in those forms of music as in jazz.

It is this reason that despite fifty years of constant touring, there was no lack of enthusiasm among his fans across the world. Whether he was in Europe in Canada or anywhere in the US, the demand for tickets for his concerts was always high and tickets were sold out as soon as it went under the hammer.


Merely two days before his death, Al Jarreau had announced his retirement from active touring. He wanted some rest after being tired by constant touring, spanning over close to five decades. But alas, his desire was fulfilled, but in a very strange fashion. He died two days after announcing the retirement. His death was announced by his manager, Joe Gordon.

Jarreau was the only person in living memory whose voice was so flexible he played it like an instrument, from the improvisations of a saxophone to trumpet and flute. His scatting style earned him the nickname the “Acrobat of Scat.” He bent notes and improvised like a jazz musician. There is no denying that scatting was just a small part of his musical arsenal. His seven Grammy Awards over the years demonstrated his unique adaptability to his eclectic stylings.

Initially he performed in different pubs in Los Angeles and other places, but once he was discovered by Hollywood, he never looked back. He won his first Grammy in 1978 for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, for his double live album “Look to the Rainbow.” His sizzling interpretation of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five,” the title song from Dave Brubeck’s popular album, is an intense roller-coaster ride up and down the musical scale as Jarreau effortlessly emulates three or four different instruments over the course of seven and a half minutes.

Born in the year 1940, the singer breathed his last on 12th February 2017. He won his first Grammy in the year 1978 and the last almost thirty five year later in 2013. The singer was married twice. His first marriage to Phyllis Hall ended in divorce in 1968. He spent his rest of his life with second wife, model Susan Elaine Player. He is survived by her and their son Ryan. Al Jarreau cause of death was said to be from exhaustion.

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