Ari Gold, the charismatic queer musician who was mentored by RuPaul, opened for Chaka Khan and sung with pop-soul titan Diana Ross, has died. He was 47.
Gold, according to multiple news reports, passed away from leukaemia.
Performing since he was just five years old, Gold went from voicing the squeaky Cabbage Patch Kids and recording catchy jingles to touring the world with Cyndi Lauper and modelling for Boy George.
Born in 1974, Gold quickly seized the house music scene as an openly gay musician in New York City, US, in the early 2000s. Living up to his surname, Gold spun up award-winning and chart-topping hits such as “See Through Me” and “Where the Music Takes You”.
The Bronx native’s music, equal parts finger-snapping and lyrically powerful, often explored spirituality and sexuality. They were even featured on NBC’s Scrubs and ABC’s Cougar Town.
Friends described Gold as a world-wise and ambitious record producer who paved the way for future queer talent – he sang of same-sex love in Manhattan music clubs and honky-tonks years before mainstream artists would feel comfortable doing the same.
Ari Gold was a ‘lovely, gentle man’, says ‘mentor’ RuPaul
They had first met in 2002 and remained close ever since, with Gold appearing in the queen of drag’s 2007 film, Starrbooty.
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) February 14, 2021
“Ari Gold, love always, Ru.”
Ru had spoken to Gold only days before his death, he said. “Isn’t God amazing, Ru?” Gold told him during the call. “I said: ‘Yes, absolutely.’ #LoveAlwaysAndForever.”
The RuPaul’s Drag Race host shared a podcast the pair had recorded one-year prior after Gold’s battle in cancer in late 2019.
Speaking on A Kiki From the Cancer Ward, which saw Gold chat to close friends who visited him while hospitalised, Gold said: “Ru became the closest thing I’ve known to a mentor.
“I couldn’t tell you how many hours on the phone we’d spend where I would vomit out my perceived problems of the moment and Ru would give me a more evolved, spiritual perspective on him.”
Laverne Cox also paid tribute to Gold in an emotional Instagram post. “So many people have come and gone from my life over the past 25 years but you have been a constant,” the actor reflected.
View this post on Instagram
“So many people have come and gone from my life over the past 25 years but you have been a constant.
“As I’ve grown and evolved, you evolved with me,” she added. “The spiritual journey we’ve both been on has made it clear why we’ve remained in each other’s lives for so long. I’m so utterly devastated that you’ve moved on today.
“But I know you’ll be watching over me as you always have.”
As the news shuddered online, devastated fans celebrated Gold and the groundbreaking life he led.
— Mario Cantone (@macantone) February 15, 2021
Sad to hear that pioneering trailblazing queer artist Ari Gold has passed away. He was so incredibly kind, encouraging, and full of joy.
— Marti 2021 (@MartiGCummings) February 14, 2021
— Randy Rainbow (@RandyRainbow) February 14, 2021
I’m also just upset that the evolution of queer culture never really found an exalted place for him, even though he had the chutzpah to seize public space as an out gay pop singer at a time when such a thing was inconceivable.
— Dan Fishback (@dangerfishback) February 14, 2021
(2/2) He wasn’t afraid to write and sing same-sex lyrics. I have all of his albums. He was EXTREMELY talented. He will be missed TREMENDOUSLY! I love you Ari! Prayers for the Gold family!#arigold #sirarigold #goldnation #leukemiasucks #cancersucks #lgbticon #gayicon #pioneer pic.twitter.com/eK14t4Y01d
— Joseph Nguyễn (@josephnguyen92) February 14, 2021