Ari Gold, the legendary LGBTQ artist who sang backing vocals for Diana Ross and Cyndi Lauper, has died of leukemia.
He was 47.
World of Wonder, the production company behind “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” worked closely with Gold on his collaborations with RuPaul. “Ari was a queer trailblazer whose fierce independence and kind soul were an inspiration for many,” World of Wonder co-founders Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey said in a statement to Variety.
“Until we meet again, dear friend,” RuPaul wrote on his Twitter page, sharing a series of tweets dedicated to Gold. He also shared he had spoken with Gold just days before his death, writing “Spoke with @SirAriGoldthis morning. He said “isn’t God amazing, Ru?” I said yes, absolutely.”
The two were close, and Gold had mentioned Ru during his podcast series, “A Kiki from the Cancer Ward.”
Gold is best known for the 2007 single “Where The Music Takes You.” He released seven albums over the course of his career, and his collaborations including working with Boy George, Diana Ross and Cyndi Lauper.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Gold landed his first professional job on the CBS Children’s recording “Pot Belly Bear: Song and Stories.” He went on to record jingles, but it was his presence in the New York club scene where Gold started to make a name for himself. He performed frequently at Joe’s Pub, Pyramid and Starlight.
In 2001, he released his self-titled album, followed by 2004’s “Space Under Sun” featuring the song “Fan-Tastic,” which he dedicated to Madonna. His music became dance floor hits.
As Gold continued writing music, he also served as the music supervisor and composer on the 2006 documentary, “Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema.” A year later, he would star in RuPaul’s “Starbooty.”
Alongside music, Gold spent time celebrating his gay pride not just through music, but through his activism within the LGBTQ community. He worked with homeless gay youth and helped to raise awareness for HIV and AIDS.
Soon after his diagnosis, Gold shared about his experience in NewNowNext. “I really do try to live each day as if it’s my last,” Gold wrote. He went on to say, “Nobody wants to have cancer. It may be the only thing we can all agree on. (Not even Trump supporters want cancer!) But nobody wants to grow up gay in the ‘80s in a religious household like I did, either. I lived each day of my closeted adolescence thinking that who I was would disappoint, scare, and upset all the people I loved in my life.”
Gold also wrote about his activism and reflected on his experience as a gay teen: “I vowed to devote my entire adult life to making sure kids (and adults) didn’t feel like I did growing up.”
Laverne Cox paid tribute to Gold writing, “So many memories. Some of my favorites would be when we would be at the club back in the 90’s talking intersectional feminist and queer theory in a corner for far too long. You played your demos for me at your apartment on West 16th Street before you released your first album. It’s endless. You were there for so many many moments in my life.”