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Singer Jon Lucien Dies at 65

Jon Lucien, a singer whose romantic style incorporated jazz, Caribbean and R&B influences, died Aug. 18 in Florida at age 65. The cause was respiratory failure.

Lucien’s baritone voice and smooth love songs reached their commercial peak in the 1970s, and he was considered a pioneer of the smooth-jazz or “quiet storm” formats that became popular in later decades.

Lucien was born Jan. 8, 1942 on Tortola in the Virgin Islands and was raised in St. Thomas. In the mid-’60s he moved to New York and began building a reputation as a classy singer of great emotional range. His debut album for RCA Records, 1970’s I Am Now, established him as an innovator of the fusion of swaying bossa nova, mild soul and classic, easy-listening pop-several of the songs on the album were standards by the likes of Jobim, Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hammerstein.

His second album, Rashida, introduced Lucien to a wider audience but his most ambitious effort for RCA was 1974’s Mind’s Eye, for which Lucien wrote all of the material. With arrangements by Dave Grusin, the album was a more progressive affair than his previous releases, incorporating not only the sweetness and orchestration his fans had already become accustomed to, but more modern, electronic and jazz elements.

Lucien switched to Columbia Records in the mid-’70s but a lack of commercial success-he never placed an album or single on the Billboard charts-kept him away from the recording business until the early 1990s, when he resumed his career on Mercury Records and, later, Shanachie. He continued to record until 2006, mostly for the independent Orchard label (including his only live recording), and in recent years his output for RCA has been reissued.

Originally Published