Singer Lou Rawls, 72, has died of cancer


Published: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 11:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 11:01 a.m.

Lou Rawls, the velvet-voiced singer who started as a church choir boy and went on to record such classic tunes as "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," died Friday of cancer. He was 72.

Rawls died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was hospitalized last month for treatment of lung and brain cancer, said his publicist, Paul Shefrin. His wife, Nina, was at his bedside when he died.

Rawls' family and Shefrin said the singer was 72, although other records indicate he was 70.

Rawls' deep, smooth voice was his trademark, and he used it in a variety of genres.

"I've gone the full spectrum, from gospel to blues to jazz to soul to pop," Rawls once said on his Web site. "And the public has accepted what I've done through it all."

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 rejoined the Pilgrim Travelers in Los Angeles, where he sang with Sam Cooke. Rawls performed with Dick Clark at the Hollywood Bowl in 1959, and he later he opened for The Beatles at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

Rawls was playing small blues and R&B clubs in Los Angeles when his four-octave range caught the ear of a Capitol Records producer, who signed him to the label in 1962.

His debut effort, "Stormy Monday," recorded with the Les McCann Trio, was the first of 28 albums Rawls made with Capitol.

In 1966, his "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" topped the charts and earned Rawls his first two Grammy nominations. He won three Grammys in his career and released his most recent album, "Seasons 4 U," in 1998 on his own label, Rawls & Brokaw Records.

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."

A longtime community activist, Rawls visited schools, playgrounds and community centers in the 1960s, encouraging children to continue their studies and have confidence in their abilities. In the '80s, he helped the United Negro College Fund raise more than $200 million through telethons.

In 1976, Rawls became the corporate spokesman for the Anheuser-Busch Cos. breweries.

Rawls was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2004 and brain cancer in May 2005.

Besides his wife, Rawls is survived by four children: Louanna Rawls, Lou Rawls Jr., Kendra Smith and Aiden Rawls.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete, Shefrin said.

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