From LOU RAWLS’ early days in gospel to his collaborations with Sam Cooke, from the “Dick Clark Show” at the Hollywood Bowl in 1959 to opening for The Beatles in 1963 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, there has been one constant in his career – a voice that one critic has called “sweet as sugar, soft as velvet, strong as steel, smooth as butter.”
In his 40-some years as a recording artist, spanning an astonishing 70-plus albums, 13 Grammy nominations, one platinum album, five gold albums, and a gold single, Rawls has epitomized the ultimate song stylist. Not surprisingly, he began singing gospel. In the ’50s, Rawls ventured to Los Angeles and was recruited for the Chosen Gospel Singers, with whom he was first heard on record.
Playing small R&B, pop, and soul clubs in L.A., Rawls was performing at Pandora’s Box Coffee Shop for $10 a night plus pizza in late 1959 when Nick Venet, a producer at Capitol, was so impressed with Rawls’ four-octave range that he invited him to make an audition tape. I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water, his 1962 solo debut on Capitol, became the first of over 20 albums on that label in a decade.
In his first two decades, Rawls claimed the platinum album All Things In Time (1976) and the gold albums Lou Rawls Live! (1966), Soulin’ (1966), Unmistakably Lou (1977), and When You Hear Lou, You’ve Heard It All (1978). At one point, Rawls had five albums on the charts simultaneously and reached a pinnacle with his own one-man show on Broadway.
Rawls also brought his talents to children’s programming, becoming the singing voice of the animated feline Garfield. More recently, he sang the title song for the Jungle Cubs animated series, and was the voice of one of the Rugrats in the hit Rugrats: The Movie.
He is also the voice of the Postman on Nickelodeon’s Hey, Arnold. His most notable film and television projects include Leaving Las Vegas, Blues Brothers 2000, cameos on ABC’s Norm, UPN’s Martin, and a recurring role on Baywatch Nights. He continues to be one of the hosts of BET’s Jazz Central, and in the Spring of 2000 BET aired the Lou Rawls Special.
His latest release on Rawls & Brokaw Records is a two-volume set entitled The Best of Lou Rawls, Volumes I & 2. Many of the 28 songs picked by Rawls for the set have never been previously released on CD. Rawls last performed at the Bowl last summer.
Visit his website at www.lourawls.com