Tributes have flooded social media following the tragic death of influential musician and artist Ari Gold, who passed away at the age of just 47 following a two-year battle with leukemia.

Among his many achievements Gold performed backing vocals for Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper and Boy George.

Among the many musicians and collaborators that Gold worked with over his ground-breaking career, was the production company World Of Wonder who are responsible for the global phenonium that is RuPaul’s Drag Race. In a statement released by the production company they said of his close collaboration with RuPaul, Ari was a queer trailblazer whose fierce independence and kind soul were an inspiration for many.”

Shortly after Ru herself took to social media posting on Instagram and Twitter “Until we meet again, dear friend. @SirAriGold Love always, Ru.”

A Bronx native, Gold made his professional debut on the CBS Children’s recording a Pot Belly Bear: Song And Stories. Soon afterwards he then broke into the New York club scene where he fast made a reputation for himself by performing at such legendary clubs as Joe’s Pub, Pyramid and Starlight. He would go on to release seven solo albums across his career, though is perhaps best known for his 2007 single Where The Music Takes You

At the time, Gold continued to remain unapologetic in the explicitly queer overtones to his lyrics and production values. Unquestionably, Gold is an artist that paved the way for so many queer artists we hear in the charts to this very day.

 In 2019 Gold began undergoing treatment for leukemia and was for a time declared cancer free. Shortly after his diagnosis, Gold opened up about his experience saying“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.”

During this period, he turned his attentions to creating the podcast A Kiki From the Cancer Ward in which he interviewed friends who had supported and visited him during his time in hospital. During one episode of this podcast he described RuPaul as “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.” In return, Gold offered RuPaul advice on independently releasing music.

Many other influential artists and public figures have been public in their grief, with Billy Porter perhaps summing up Gold’s legacy the best, saying on Instagram, “I can’t believe I’m typing these words…. R.I.P. Ari Gold, you were truly a trailblazer in so many ways. You lived freely, unapologetically and proudly. I promise to continue pushing forward in your memory. I’ll make sure the world continues to see and respect our community as you always knew they should.

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