Photo credits: The Los Angeles Times
Louis Allen Rawls (pictured) was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 1, 1933.
Rawls was an American singer, songwriter, actor, voice actor, and record producer. He released more than 60 albums, sold more than 40 million records. His rich baritone voice garnered him numerous charting singles, most notably his song “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,”
Throughout his career, Rawls worked as a film, television, and voice actor. He was also a three-time Grammy-winner, all for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. He was raised by his grandmother in the Ida B. Wells projects on Chicago’s South Side.
Rawls began singing in the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church choir at the age of seven. He later sang with local groups through which he met the incomparable Sam Cooke, who was nearly three years older, and the legendary Curtis Mayfield.
He was invited to sing the anthem many times over the next 28 years. His final performance was in his hometown of Chicago. It was here where he was asked to sing the national anthem before the second game of the 2005 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field.
In 1982, Rawls received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On January 19, 1985, he sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” at the nationally televised 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala the day before the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
In December 2005, it was announced that Rawls was being treated for lung cancer, which spread to his brain. He died from this illness on January 6, 2006, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Rawls was 72 years of age at the time of his passing.
Lou Rawls’ final television performance occurred during the 2005–2006 edition of the telethon, honoring Stevie Wonder in September 2005. This was just months before Rawls entered the hospital and after being diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year.
He bravely performed “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “It Was A Very Good Year” as a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Rawls was married three times. His third wife, Nina, a former flight attendant, managed his career during his last two years. They had one son, Aiden Rawls.
Rawls was also survived by another son, Lou Rawls Jr.; two daughters, Louanna Rawls of Los Angeles and Kendra Smith of Los Angeles; and four grandchildren.
*BlackThen.com writer and historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report.