'He was phenomenal;' Al Jarreau's close friend reacts to singer's death

Posted at 9:12 PM, Feb 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 07:38:29-05
Milwaukee native and Grammy winning singer Al Jarreau died Sunday morning leaving behind a legacy of jazz music that his close friend John Taylor says will be very hard to surpass. 
"You recognize greatness when you see it," said Taylor. "I just happened to be lucky enough to grow up with him." 
Taylor says he first remembers becoming friends with Jarreau when the pair would deliver newspapers as young boys. Their friendship grew when they both joined the school choir at Lincoln High School.
"We all had unlimited love for music," said Taylor. "That was our lives." 
They both went on to lead successful music careers. Taylor became the lead singer of the Ink Spots, while Jarreau went on to record 20 albums in his 50 year career. Jarreau was the only Grammy vocalist to win in the jazz, pop and R&B categories. 
Jarreau graduated from Lincoln High School, going on to study at Ripon College. He then moved to California and soared to stardom. 
He's most known for his song 'We're in this love together.'
"I said 'Al, what made you write that song?'" said Taylor. "He said, 'love man, love."
But before any of that, Taylor says his close friend had doubts about his musical career.
"He talked to me one time, he said 'maybe I should just go into the pop field and sing,'" said Taylor. "I said, 'no stay in the jazz field where you belong. Stay there cause you've got something that the world hasn't heard yet."
Taylor says he remembers the first time he heard one of Jarreau's songs on the radio.
'The next time I saw him, we just hugged," said Taylor. "He said 'man, you told me to keep on going.' I said 'yeah cause man, you got a lot in you.'"
Jarreau recently won a lifetime achievement award from the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music. 
"He reached out, you know he gave back," said Taylor. "He was a beautiful man. I never heard anybody say anything about Al that was derogatory. He was just a magnificent person."
Taylor says he spoke to Jarreau about a month ago on the phone. The last photo the pair took together was when Jarreau visited Milwaukee two years ago and they saw each other at Potawatomi. 
"He was phenomenal," said Taylor. "The world has lost a great, great singer and a great person." 
Jarreau's official Twitter account and website say he died surrounded by his wife, son and a few other family members and friends. He was 76.
Jarreau's family has asked that instead of flowers or gifts, donations be made in his honor to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music.