Lou Rawls sang in a silky baritone, delivering smooth rhythm and blues tunes across more than 60 albums during his career. The hits were few, but the voice was a distinctive, distinguished presence on '70s pop radio, peaking with the romance of “You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.”
Rawls attended high school with future soul music icon Sam Cooke, and together they sang gospel in the Teenage Kings of Harmony. In the '50s, Rawls joined and recorded with the Chosen Gospel Singers before becoming a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.
He returned home and joined Cooke in the Pilgrim Travelers, and barely survived a car crash while on tour with the group. Rawls was in a coma for five days and did not fully recover for a year. By the end of the '50s, Rawls moved to Los Angeles, where he performed regularly at the Pandora's Box jazz nightclub (years before it was transformed into a notorious '60s teen club).
He recorded his first solo album, “I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water,” for Capitol in 1962. Rawls earned his first Grammy nominations for 1966's “Love Is a Hurtin' Thing.”
As disco rose as a dominant force in pop music, Rawls chose to work instead with famed Philly sound producers/songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The result was the biggest hit of his career, “You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” his only top 10 record, reaching No. 2 on the pop singles chart. It appeared on his 1976 album, “All Things in Time.”
Outside of music, Rawls was an active fundraiser for a variety of causes. His annual Lou Rawls Parade of Stars Telethon supported the United Negro College Fund.
In 1982, he got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He died of brain and lung cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.