- Birth name:
- Louis Allen Rawls
- Date of Birth:
- 6 January 1933 Chicago, Illinois, USA
- 5' 10" (1.78 m)
Rawls was born on 1st December 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. His father abandoned his family and Lou was raised by his grandmother. His first meeting with music was when he was seven years old, in a Baptist church choir. He was mostly influenced by the Chicago Regal theatre where he had the opportunity to see the best in black entertainment. Billy Eckstine and Arthur Prysock were only two of the best that Lou saw. He and classmate, Sam Cooke, would harmonize in the school lavatory. He graduated from Dunbar Tech. School and joined the touring gospel singing group, the Pilgrim Travelers. He left the group in 1956 and joined the US Army and became a Sergeant with the Screaming Eagle Paratroopers. In 1958, he was involved in a serious auto accident that killed one and Rawls was pronounced dead on on the way to the hospital. Lou remained in a coma for over five days and suffered a memory loss for several months. Sam Cooke was also in the automobile and was left uninjured. Rawls was first noticed by Capitol Records producer Nick Benet after noticing his four active range while performing at a Pandora's Los Angeles coffee shop. He went on to perform at a number of LA clubs and later made his debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 1959 with Dick Clark. He went solo in 1964 and has won four Grammys. In the mid 70s, he joined the Anheuser Busch Brewery as a corporate spokesman. Since 1980, he has presented a series of world wide concerts for American military bases that were co-sponsored by Anheuser Busch, the USO, and the US Dept. Of Defense. During Christmas of 1983, he toured US bases in the Phillipines, Korea and Japan. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for black colleges and, every year, he sponsors a celebrity golf tournament in LA to raise money for the United Negro College Fund. South Wentworth Street in Chicago was renamed Lou Rawls Drive in his honor. The talented Rawls is also the singing voice of the animated fickle feline "Garfield".