Jazz singer Al Jarreau, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, died Sunday morning at a Los Angeles hospital, hours before the awards ceremony in that city.
The tenor’s death comes two days after an announcement on his website that he was retiring from touring due to exhaustion.
Jarreau died at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, according to a statement from his booking agent Bob Zievers.
He was dubbed the “Acrobat of Scat” for the fast, wordless syllables of bebop jazz. But he branched out to mimic other musical instruments and sounds.
Jarreau is the only Grammy vocalist to win in jazz, pop and R&B categories. Last year, he performed in 50 concerts, including at the White House.
Jarreau released the first of his 20 albums in 1975, when he was 35. But within two years he had won the first of his Grammy Awards: jazz vocal performance for his album, “Look to the Rainbow.”
His 1981 album “Breakin’ Away,” sold more than 1 million copies and included a Top 20 hit, We’re in This Love Together. The album won the Grammy in pop vocal performance and a song from the album, his version of Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo à la Turk, won for jazz vocal performance.
He won a Grammy for children’s recording with In Harmony: A Sesame Street Record one year earlier in 1980.
Jarreau recorded the theme song for the TV series Moonlighting. in 1985. Al Jarreau’s son Ryan reported he caught his dad singing the song to one of the nurses Saturday, according to Jarreau’s twitter account.
His 1992 album “Heaven and Earth” won a Grammy for R&B vocal performance.
He performed with symphony orchestras and acted on Broadway in 1996 in the role of Teen Angel in Grease.
In 2004, Jurreau recorded an album of jazz standards called “Accentuate the Positive,” which included songs by Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer.
“It’s really the first jazz record I’ve ever done,” Jarreau told Billboard magazine. “Everything else that came before was pop and R&B. This is a thanks to the kind of music that made me the person I am today.”
In 2006, Jarreau won his last Grammy — traditional rhythm & blues performance for God Bless the Children with guitarist George Benson and singer Jill Scott.
Jarreau is survived by his wife of 39 years, Susan Player, and his son.
Alwyn Lopez Jarreau was born March 12, 1940, in Milwaukee.
Jarreau tried out with the Milwaukee Braves baseball team and played basketball at Wisconsin’s Ripon College, where he graduated in 1962. In 1964, he received a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Iowa.
Jarreau received a lifetime achievement award from the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music. Jarreau’s family requested contributions be made to the foundation.