Madonna Takes Luther Vandross Out of Celebration Tour AIDS Tribute At Estate’s Request

Madonna has removed an image of R&B legend Luther Vandross from a memorial segment of her Celebration tour at the request of the late singer’s estate. A spokesperson for Madonna confirmed to Billboard on Tuesday morning (Feb. 27) that the picture was removed from a bit in the show in which the singer pays tribute to singers and other artists lost to AIDS during the nightly performance of her 1986 ballad “Live to Tell.”


The move came after Vandross’ picture was added to the montage during Saturday night’s show in Sacramento, CA according to Page Six. The surprise inclusion of the “Dance With My Father” singer amid pictures of Queen singer Freddie Mercury, photographer Herb Ritts, artist Keith Haring and disco legend Sylvester reportedly drew a quick response from Vandross’ camp; Vandross died in 2005 at age 54 due to complications from a 2003 stroke.

“Luther Vandross passed away in 2005 due to complications from a stroke suffered two years earlier,” a rep for the singer’s estate reportedly told Page Six. “While we appreciate Madonna’s recognition of those lives lost to AIDS, Luther was NEVER diagnosed with AIDS or the HIV Virus. We’re not sure where she or her production team received false medical information claiming otherwise. We’re currently in contact with her management to remove Luther Vandross from the tribute.”

At press time a spokesperson for the Vandross estate could not be reached for comment.

Madonna’s career-spanning Celebration tour continues tonight with a show at the Chase Center in San Francisco and is currently slated to run through an April 26 gig at Palacio De Los Deportes in Mexico City.

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