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Profile: Lou Rawls

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Lou Rawls

Lou Rawls

The Brokaw Company

Born:

Louis Allen Rawls, December 1st, 1933, Chicago, IL; died January 6th, 2006 (Los Angeles, CA)

Genres:

Soul, R&B, Jazz, Pop, Pop-Soul

Instruments:

Vocals

Contributions to music:

  • Perhaps the classiest of all soul crooners
  • Bridged jazz, soul, and pop in a way few artists of the day could
  • Four-octave voice was remarkably smooth and natural
  • An all-around performer who crossed over into other areas of entertainment easily
  • A major contributor to and spokesman for the African-American community

Early years:

Raised on Chicago's rough South Side by his grandmother, Lou Rawls kept out of trouble through the church -- for most of his early career, Rawls sang gospel, often touring with schoolboy friend Sam Cooke. (In fact, Rawls almost died in Sam's famous 1958 car crash.) He recovered quickly, however, and by 1962 he was making a name for himself in Los Angeles playing small clubs in a variety of formats. Capitol producer Nick Venet caught him one night, and soon he was signed as a jazz-soul vocalist.

Success:

Rawls made an impression with his many studio albums, but it was his live work which got him noticed, due to his tendency to keep the audience's attention with long mid-song meditations on life. In 1966, Capitol tried to break him as a pop-soul singer, resulting in hits like "Dead End Street," "Love Is A Hurtin' Thing," and "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)." Inspired by Joe Williams and Billy Eckstine, Rawls wound up playing many lucrative stints in Vegas, where he could sing in many styles.

Later years:

In the mid-70s, Lou hooked up with the Gamble/Huff production and songwriting team and scored Philly soul hits like "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" and "Lady Love." Disco derailed his chart career, as it did many soul stars, but he remained a huge concert draw for decades, as well as a major philanthropic force in the African-American community and an in-demand corporate spokesman. Rawls contracted lung and brain cancer in the mid-2000s and, sadly, succumbed to it in January 2006.

Other facts:

  • Enlisted as a paratrooper in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in 1955
  • Was actually pronounced dead after his 1958 car crash; spent six days in a coma
  • First to record Hall and Oates' "She's Gone"
  • Considered the classiest and silkiest vocalist by none other than Frank Sinatra
  • Hosted an annual telethon for the benefit of the United Negro College Fund
  • Featured on the commentary track of the DVD Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; scat sings with Will Ferrell
  • Has a street named after him in Chicago, IL

Awards/Honors:

  • GRAMMY Awards (1967, 1971, 1977)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (6931 Hollywood Blvd.)

Songs, Albums, and Charts:


#1 hits:
R&B:
  • "Love Is A Hurtin' Thing" (1966)
  • "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" (1976)

Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" (1976)
R&B:
  • "Dead End Street Monologue/Dead End Street" (1967)
  • "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)" (1969)
  • "See You When I Git There" (1977)


#1 albums:
R&B:
  • Lou Rawls Live! (1966)
  • Lou Rawls Soulin' (1966)
  • All Things In Time (1976)
Jazz:
  • Too Much! (1967)
  • At Last (1989)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • Lou Rawls Live! (1966)
  • Lou Rawls Soulin' (1966)
  • Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho! (1967)
  • All Things In Time (1976)
R&B:
  • Lou Rawls Carryin' On! (1967)
  • That's Lou (1967)
  • Too Much! (1967)
  • Feelin' Good (1968)
  • The Way It Was - The Way It Is (1969)
Jazz:
  • Lou Rawls Live! (1966)
  • Lou Rawls Soulin' (1966)
  • Lou Rawls Carryin' On!(1967)
  • That's Lou (1967)
  • It's Supposed to Be Fun (1990)
  • Christmas Is the Time (1993)
  • Portrait of the Blues (1993)
  • Rawls Sings Sinatra (2004)
Other important recordings: "Tobacco Road," "I'm Gonna Move to The Outskirts Of Town," "Nobody But Me," "St. James Infirmary," "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)," "Red Top," "(They Call It) Stormy Monday," "Show Business," "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water," "Street Corner Hustler's Blues," "Willow Weep For Me," "World Of Trouble," "Down Here on the Ground," "Righteous Woman/I Wanna Little Girl," "From Now On," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "They Don't Give Medals (To Yesterday's Heroes)," "Groovy People," "You Are," "Lady Love"
Appears on: "Bring It On Home To Me," Sam Cooke
Covered by: The Temptations, Chuck Jackson, George Benson, Joe Tex
Appears in the movies: "Angel, Angel, Down We Go" (1969), "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), "Malevolence" (1995), "Morella" (1997), "After The Game" (1997), "The Price Of Kissing" (1997), "Still Breathing" (1997), "Blues Brothers 2000" (1998), "Watchers Reborn" (1998), "The Rugrats Movie" (1998), "Bel Air" (2000), "Everything's Jake" (2000), "A Man Is Mostly Water" (2000), "The Code Conspiracy" (2001), "Betaville" (2001), "Uh Oh!" (2003), four more
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