Luther Vandross Once Called the Cops on En Vogue
En Vogue first garnered acclaim in the ’90s as one of the most talented girl groups in the music game. With original members Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, Terry Ellis, and Maxine Jones, their first two albums went platinum before they experienced a series of breakups. But in the early days of their life on tour, they had friction with another star: Luther Vandross.
When did En Vogue first come out?
Assembled by producers Thomas McElroy and Denzel Foster, the foursome made their official debut in 1990 with Born to Sing and quickly soared in popularity. En Vogue’s second album, Funky Divas, was released in 1992 and by that time, the women were known for their style and their powerful vocals.
Although they didn’t know one another before joining the group, they bonded and at one point joked about becoming pregnant at the same time. Back in 1992 during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ellis described her excitement about being in the group and putting their album together.
“One night I woke up at about 4 a.m. and thought, ‘This is just so incredible and major that we were brought together.’ Then I thought, ‘That’s it. We were born to sing…together,’” Ellis said.
Their star power continued to climb with hits such as “Hold On” and in 1993, they went on tour with R&B legend Luther Vandross.
En Vogue and Luther Vandross had conflicts on tour
In 1993, Vandross kicked off the first leg of his “Never Let Me Go” tour with En Vogue as the opening act. According to the book, So Amazing: Through the Eyes of Kevin Owens by Kevin Owens — one of Vandross’ former backup singers — Vandross and En Vogue got on well during their first meeting when the women signed on to his tour.
En Vogue’s stage manager for the event was Dwight Miller, who years before, worked in the same capacity for Vandross. Owens wrote there were agreements about wardrobe, the band, and how the stage presentation would run, but once the tour got rolling, there were a few issues that snowballed into something bigger.
En Vogue allegedly wanted to bring Vandross out during their set — rather than have him make his own entrance as the headliner — and they complained about the stage setup. Vandross dismissed it at first as inexperience since the group never toured before.
There were also disputes about outfits being too similar. Owens wrote that Vandross explained his stance. “If Frank Sinatra were the star, and I were the opener, and I saw a tuxedo and sweater hanging on the rack in wardrobe, if Frank wanted the tuxedo, I’d be in the sweater. That’s how it always works. First choice comes with status, and in this show I’m the star.”
The last straw came when En Vogue started firing band members and implied to the media and audience that they didn’t have enough room for a full band. Per Owens, they were scheming to make Vandross look like the bad guy and eventually sent him an “insulting letter.”
Vandross blocked their access to the stadium on the day of one of their performance, citing that having a full band was part of their contract. They somehow worked things out before the night of the show, but En Vogue and their entourage stuck close together. Tensions were high.
Vandross reportedly called the police on En Vogue
Dawn Robinson recently opened up in a December interview with Discussions NT about that tour with Vandross. She praised the singer and expressed her love for him but shared that his tour demands were “nuts.” She stated he didn’t want them to wear red, black, blue, or white, so they adjusted their outfits.
Robinson added that Herron was pregnant at the time and the physical aspects of their show were a lot for her. Following En Vogue’s tense meeting with Vandross about their contract, Vandross allegedly barred the group from walking past his dressing room on a direct route to the stage.
According to Robinson, Vandross called the police on them during a tour stop in Miami because they violated that request. She said she couldn’t blame him for what they agreed to contractually but felt he could’ve been more lenient.
Later, Vandross admitted in several interviews that the experience didn’t end well, and he would never tour with En Vogue again.