The great Lou Rawls, an American icon is gone. Rawls, 72, died early Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was hospitalized last month for treatment of lung and brain cancer. His wife Nina, was by his side according to publicist Paul Shefrin.
Rawls a winner of three Grammy Awards had career that spanned nearly five decades and a range of genres. His smooth baritone voice was his signature.
Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin said Rawls was a “memorable musical stylist … who made a serious impact in the interest of historically black colleges and black folks.”
R&B songstress Meliísa Morgan conveyed to EUR her thoughts about his passing: “I am very saddened at the passing of a true Legend Mr. Lou Rawls. I was very fortunate to meet and perform on several telethons and other television shows with Mr. Lou Rawls. When my first hits “Do Me Baby” and “Do You Still Love Me?” hit the charts. I called him my Uncle in the music business. He was always a class act and just a wonderful person. I am blessed to have been able to call him a Uncle and Friend. He will be deeply missed.”
“His voice was so unique,” said legendary producer Kenny Gamble, who with Leon Huff wrote “You’ll Never Find.” “The other thing was that he had a sense of community. Thousands and thousands of young kids benefited from his celebrity.”
It all began when Rawls’ grandmother introduced him to gospel in his hometown of Chicago. The singer moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s to join a touring gospel group, the Pilgrim Travelers.
After a two-year stint in the Army, Rawls returned to Los Angeles and rejoined the Pilgrim Travelers, where he sang with Sam Cooke. He performed with Dick Clark at the Hollywood Bowl in 1959, and two years later, he opened for The Beatles at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
His debut effort, “Stormy Monday,” recorded with the Les McCann Trio, was the first of 28 albums Rawls made with Capitol, which signed him in 1962.
Not only a singer, he also appeared in 18 movies, including “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Blues Brothers 2000,” and 16 television series, including “Fantasy Island” and “The Fall Guy.”
Rawls was also know for his tireless efforts to raise money for the United Negro College Fund. He helped raise more than $200 million through telethons.
Rawls was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2004 and brain cancer in May 2005.
Rawls is survived by wife Nina and four children: Louanna Rawls, Lou Rawls Jr., Kendra Smith and Aiden Rawls.
Reprinted with permission: