Lou Rawls, who possessed one of the great voices in popular music, with a rich, unmistakable tone that made him a leading soul and pop singer of the 1960s and '70s, died of lung and brain cancer Jan. 6 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Although some published records give his age as 69 or 70, his publicist said he was 72.
Mr. Rawls had a supple, seductive baritone voice that carried him from the gospel choirs of his youth through jazz, rhythm and blues, pop and soul and back again. He recorded more than 75 albums, won three Grammy Awards and had five gold records. Until his illness forced him to stop last month, he appeared in 200 concerts a year.
In addition to his work in music, Mr. Rawls was a leading fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund. As the host of an annual telethon, he raised more than $200 million in contributions in the past 25 years.
A street is named for him in his native Chicago. Mr. Rawls appeared as an actor in many films and television shows, but it was his suave, polished singing style for which he will be most remembered.
No less an authority than Frank Sinatra once said that Mr. Rawls had "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game." - Matt Schudel, TWP