David Lasley, Musician-Songwriter and Prized Backup Singer for Music Legends, Dies at 74

David Lasley — an American artist, songwriter and longtime backup singer for a slew of legendary artists — passed away on Dec. 9 at the age of 74, Billboard has confirmed. In addition to a solo career that netted him the 1982 top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit “If I Had My Wish Tonight,” Lasley sang backup for Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and more.

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Tributes to the late singer poured in after the news of his passing, with Desmond Child, James Taylor and more expressing their condolences online and sharing his music.

Lasley co-wrote Bonnie Raitt’s “I Ain’t Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again” and “Got You On My Mind.” Raitt took to social media with fond words about Lasley, stating, “I am so sorry to hear of the passing of yet another beautiful friend and bright light in our music world, golden voiced David Lasley.”

According to a 1986 Los Angeles Times interview, Lasley grew up just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he sang in his local church. Lasley, his late sister Julie and his childhood friends later formed a band called The Utopias and made four records together, which they promoted at local radio stations. After the group disbanded, Lasley went on to join the touring production of Hair! from 1972-1974.

Following his stint in the Utopias, Lasley formed a vocal group called Rosie, which released two albums on RCA records in 1976 and 1977. Years later, he lent his talents to commercials, voicing ads for Miller Beer and Seagram’s Cooler.

Lasley’s four octave vocal range made him a coveted backup singer, especially with his falsetto voice. Over the course of his career, he also worked behind James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler and Ringo Starr.

In the early 1980s, Lasley was signed to Geffen Records but bought his way out of his contract when he became dissatisfied with the label asking him to “copy other artists,” according to the Los Angeles Times interview.

Between 1981 and 2006, Lasley released eight solo albums and served as a co-writer on countless singles for Raitt, LaBelle, Arnold McCuller, Whitney Houston, Dusty Springfield, Anita Baker and more.

Lasley also appeared in 20 Feet From Stardom, the 2013 documentary about backup singers that won Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Academy Awards.In 2021, a severe illness left Lasley an amputee, according to a GoFundMe started by McCuller, his friend and collaborator of 51 years. He is survived by his brother Dean Lasley.

More tributes can be found below.

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