December 1, 1933 – January 6, 2006
Frank Sinatra once said of Rawls had, “the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game.” Lou was born in Chicago, recorded over 70 albums and sold over 40 million records. He was also a high school buddy of Sam Cooke. The two were very close, and worked together a lot. Lou was almost killed in a car accident while touring with Sam in the late 50s. He was in a coma for several days, and he took this as a time to reevaluate his life. No kidding.
In December 2005 it was announced that Lou had the worst dynamic duo, brain and lung cancer. That’s like announcing an obituary. On January 6th, Lou did indeed pass away at Cedars.
His wife was at his side.
He was 72 years old.
Upon the announcement, the Hollywood Chamber place the obligatory wreath on Lou’s star.
Lou was laid out at the Angelus Funeral Home on Crenshaw, and viewing was open to the public (no photographs please).
I asked my friend Michael to attend, who had curiously never seen a corpse before. If there’s gonna be a first, it may as well be Lou Rawls, eh? We had to enter through a side door, and Lou was dressed in a purple jacket and black turtleneck.
Probably the same as the picture above. He wore a black knit cap, which Dead Larry referred to as “spud fashion.” Lou was in a beautiful black and silver casket, that was facing away from the people viewing. From the angle, he looked pretty damn good.
There were no major flowers on display, just an arrangement from the United Negro College Fund, which Lou famously supported through telethons. There was a lone microphone placed to the right of his casket. The viewing room was beautiful, stars in the ceiling, the room was dark with only Lou lit, and “You’ll Never Find” was playing on a loop.
After we left, we signed a guest book, and the only thing there was to take away with us, were African American History calendars.
I was hoping for a memorial pamphlet or something, but that wasn’t to be. I did spot the Angelus florist with a lot of arrangements in the window, which I am assuming were Rawl’s.
Upon leaving, I purchased a souvenir Lou Rawls t-shirt for 5 bucks, thank you very much. XXXL, which the man selling (hopefully) joked that I could fit in to.
We walked around the corner and spotted the hearse driver, and asked which one would be used for Mr. Rawl’s funeral the next day. He showed me the vehicle, covered in white cloth to keep the dust off, but he very kindly refused my request to photograph it, but did however spill that Lou was going to be taken to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills for interment.
His funeral was held on Friday the 13th at the West Angeles Church of God. Jesse Jackson presided, and mourners included Stevie Wonder, Della Reese and Little Richard. Joan Baez sang. After the service, Lou was taken to Forest Lawn and interred in this temporarily unmarked grave.
My friends Kim and Roger were there, and snapped this picture of the service.
Rest in peace, Mr. Rawls. I’ll bet you and Sam are making beautiful music together. That’s something I wouldn’t mind watching. Yeah buddy.
2 thoughts on “Lou Rawls”
His stated birthdate (’33) doesn’t match the T-shirt (’36). Explains the cost ($5). Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to listen to Lou sing!
I worked with Lou for a few nights, running sound. He was an absolute professional and gentleman. Made sure to meet the crew before the show. Just a great guy