Saturday, January 07, 2006

Lou Rawls 1934-2006

Velvet-voiced crooner Lou Rawls becomes the first casualty of the entertainment world in the new year 2006. Besides being a first rate entertainer Rawls was a great humanitarian, helping to raise over 200 million dollars for the United Negro College Fund, of which he was the principal telethon host over the past three decades. Among the many hits Rawls will eternally be remembered for are "Love Is A Hurting Thing", "Dead End Street", "A Natural Man", Your Good Thing" "Lady Love" and the biggest of all the Gamble and Huff written and produced "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" in 1976, but Rawls true appeal was as a seller of albums and CDs: he sold over 40 million records. His trademark of frequently speaking or "rapping"(not in today's sense of word) before a song was later adapted by other artists like Isaac Hayes and the late Barry White. Rawls would speak about the early days when many people would be in a crowded club or bar and he would be forced to do something to get their attention. Rawls succumbed to lung cancer and brain cancer. The fact that he had lung cancer came as a surprise since he had quit smoking over 35 years ago. Rawls was one of the many Sam Cooke proteges who reached stardom. This group of distinguished entertainers includes Bobby Womack, Mel Carter, the late Johnnie Taylor, Billy Preston and Jackie Ross, most of whom were gospel singers who frequently performed in churches in the Chicago area: The Pilgrim Travelers, The Soul Stirrers and the Highway Q.Cs.

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