R&B Singer Lou Rawls Dies News and Wire Reports

Posted Jan. 6, 2006 -- The music industry has lost another great one. On Friday, Jan. 6, in the early morning hours, three-time Grammy winner and musical legend Lou Rawls passed away in his hospital room at Los Angeles' Cedar-Sinai Medical Center. The 72-year old singer (though some records indicate he was 70, his family confirms he was 72) died after a battle with cancer, with his wife, Nina, by his bedside.

Rawls, who has sold more than 40 million albums throughout his four-decade-long career, with hits such as "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" and "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing," sadly announced that he had lung cancer for a year, and brain cancer since May.

“Lou Rawls was one of the music world's most versatile vocalists, covering gospel, R&B, soul, jazz, blues and pop,” Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow said in a statement. “His deep, smooth, soulful style exemplified his classy elegance and made him one of the most recognizable voices anywhere. And his philanthropic efforts on behalf of many charitable causes further displayed his passion and commitment to helping others through music. We have lost a true musical pioneer, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all.”

Paul Shefrin, publicist for Rawls, told on Friday that Rawls "was a fighter to the end" and had actually been performing as recently as November 2005, well after he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Before his death, the singer said that he quit smoking regularly about 35 years ago and had undergone both traditional and alternative medical treatment for lung cancer.

“Twenty-seven years ago, Lou was one of the earliest entertainers to understand the power of celebrity to do good,” President and CEO of UNCF, Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D said in a statement. “Although Lou was ill at the time of the taping, participating in this annual UNCF event was something he wanted to do. Here again, we saw Lou’s commitment to helping students advance their dream of a college education. Our prayers are with his family, now.”

Advertisement;sub=home;n=lou_rawls;p=aundefined;sz=300x250; tile=NaN;ord=undefined?" >

One of Lou Rawls' biggest accomplishments was that he helped raise more than $200 million over 25 years for The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), to aid historically Black private colleges.

"What Lou Rawls did for the UNCF says it all about his character. He raised nearly a quarter of a billion dollars and put tens of thousands of kids through school who wouldn't have otherwise gone if he hadn't have started the [UNCF] Parade of Stars," Shefrin told

The UNCF issued the following statement:

"The prayers of the entire United Negro College Fund community are with our long-standing friend. Lou was the 'tribute honoree' during the 25th airing of 'An Evening of Stars,' where he was recognized for his role in creating one of the longest running and most successful televised events in U.S. history. "

Ironically, the annual UNCF fundraiser "An Evening of Stars: Tribute to Stevie Wonder" begins airing tonight, in more than 70 markets nationally, and will also air over this weekend on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. (BET will air the telethon this Sunday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. (ET).)

Others appearing alongside Rawls in what will be his final television performance, include Fantasia, Toni Braxton, Smokey Robinson and Yolanda Adams. Rawls was honored last year with an honorary doctorate from Wilberforce University for his work with the United Negro College Fund.

While the show was taped in September, Rawls will be seen throughout the show singing several songs, doing voice overs to the UNCF student stories and appearing before the Stevie Wonder tribute, according to John Donohue.

According to Shefrin, celebrity friends such as Aretha Franklin, who appeared with Rawls at the 2006 UNCF telethon honoring Stevie Wonder which was taped just this past September at the Kodak theater, reached out to Rawls in his last days. Franklin had sent him an “unbelievable” bouquet of flowers, Shefrin said. Jesse Jackson, Jr., actress Della Reese, and gospel singer Andre Crouch were also in contact with Rawls in his final days. Other friends such as Issac Hayes, Angela Basset, and her husband Courtney Vance also attempted to reach to Rawls, but Shefrin was unable to confirm whether or not they were able to speak with him. They are expected to share in celebration of his life once funeral arrangements are confirmed.

David Axelrod, legendary producer and former A&R director for Capitol Records' Black Music Division recently reflected on his time working with Rawls in the `60s in an interview with

Axelrod described Rawls as a class act in the music scene. "Lou was a sweetheart. He was a very, very easy artist to work with. He never argued about the tunes," Axelrod said. "He'll go through the songs with his accompanist and come in and record."

"He will be missed," Shefrin said. "His voice, his character and, God knows, his smile will be missed."

Besides his wife, Rawls is survived by three adult children: Louanna Rawls, Lou Rawls Jr., Kendra Smith and an infant son, Aiden Rawls.