Queer music legend Ari Gold dies, aged 47, with RuPaul and Laverne Cox leading tributes to a ‘lovely, gentle man’

Singer Ari Gold poses in front of the camera, smiling and gesturing

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

“Until we meet again, dear friend,” wrote RuPaul on Twitter Sunday (14 February) in a series of touching tributes, describing the songwriter as a “lovely, gentle man”.

They had first met in 2002 and remained close ever since, with Gold appearing in the queen of drag’s 2007 film, Starrbooty.

“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.


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A post shared by laverne cox (@lavernecox)

“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.