LOS ANGELES -
Lou Rawls, the velvet-voiced singer who started as a church choir boy and went on to record such classic tunes as "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," died Friday of cancer. He was 72.
Rawls died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was hospitalized last month for treatment of lung and brain cancer, said his publicist, Paul Shefrin. His wife, Nina, was at his bedside when he died.
Rawls' family and Shefrin said the singer was 72, although other records indicate he was 70.
Rawls' deep, smooth voice was his trademark, and he used it in a variety of genres.
"I've gone the full spectrum, from gospel to blues to jazz to soul to pop," Rawls once said on his Web site. "And the public has accepted what I've done through it all."
A longtime community activist, Rawls played a major role in United Negro College Fund telethons in the 1980s that raised more than $200 million. In the '60s he often visited schools, playgrounds and community centers.
Rawls' introduction to music came in his hometown of Chicago from his grandmother, who loved gospel. He moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s to join a touring gospel group, the Pilgrim Travelers.
After a two-year stint in the Army, Rawls rejoined the Pilgrim Travelers in Los Angeles, where he sang with his childhood friend Sam Cooke. Rawls performed with Dick Clark at the Hollywood Bowl in 1959, and he later he opened for The Beatles at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
Rawls was playing small blues and R&B clubs in Los Angeles when his four-octave range caught the ear of a Capitol Records producer, who signed him to the label in 1962.
His debut effort, "Stormy Monday," recorded with the Les McCann Trio, was the first of his 52 albums. In 1966, his "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing" topped the charts and earned Rawls his first two Grammy nominations.
He won three Grammys in a career that spanned nearly five decades and included the hits "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)," "Natural Man" and "Lady Love." He released his most recent album, "Seasons 4 U," in 1998 on his own label, Rawls & Brokaw Records.
But his trademark will always be "You'll Never Find," released in 1976 and written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, architects of the classic "Philadelphia Sound."
Rawls also appeared in 18 movies, including "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Blues Brothers 2000," and 16 television series, including "Fantasy Island" and "The Fall Guy."
In 1976, Rawls became the corporate spokesman for the Anheuser-Busch Cos. breweries.
Rawls was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2004 and brain cancer in May 2005.
Besides his wife, Rawls is survived by four children: Louanna Rawls, Lou Rawls Jr., Kendra Smith and Aiden Rawls.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete, Shefrin said.