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Lou Rawls
 
Baywatch Nights: 1st Season (1995-1996)
Occupation: Singer; Actor; Composer; Charity Worker 
Current Projects: Rawls Sings Sinatra (CD/2003)
Managing his Own Record Label Rawls & Brokaw Records.
Scheduled touring around the world.
Tours Military Bases to entertain United States troups around the world
Parade of Stars Telethon for UNCF
Birth Name: Louis Allen Rawls
Birthdate: December 1, 1935 
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois 
Current Residence: Malibu, California
Marital Status: Single/Divorced (Married Lana Jean 1961-1973)
Hair/Eyes: Black/Dark Brown 
Height/weight: 5 feet, 8 inches Tall/N/A
Heritage: American with African, American Indian and White decent
Education: High School/graduated from Dunbar Tech 
Parents: Father abandoned family/Mother N/A/Raised by grandmother 
Children: 2
Siblings: None
Showbusiness start: Started in Gospel. Was chosen for gospel group Chosen Gospel Singers. And went on tour with the Pilgrim Travelers along with former classmate Sam Cooke. But his huge break came when he was performing at Panfora's Box Coffee Shop for $10 a night plus pizza in late 1959. Nick Venet, a producer at Capitol saw him perform and was extremely impressed with his four-octave range. He invited him to make an audition tape. With that done, Lou was signed to Capitol.      
Hobbies/Interests: Charities; Composing Music
Sharkey's Note: Personally, I have always described Lou Rawls' four-octave brilliance as "smooth and flawless as the finest silk." 
 
 
Lou Rawls was born on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. His father abandoned the family and he was raised by his grandmother. Lou began his career by singing gospel and was a member of his Baptist church choir when he was seven years old. As a teen, he got to see Bill Eckstine, Arthur Prysock and Joe Williams at the Regal Theatre. He loved the way they could lift the sprirt of an audience. He and classmate Sam Cooke were influenced by doo-wop and they joined groups such as the Teenage Kings of Harmony.
 
In the fifties, Lou traveled to Los Angeles and was recuited for the Chosen Gospel Singers. This is where he was first heard on record. He moved on to the Pilgrim Travelers. He enlisted in the Army in 1955 and was a Screaming Eagle paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division, the All Americans. After three years, Lou left the military with the rank of Sereant and rejoined the Travelers.
 
In 1958, while on tour in Arkansas with Sam Cooke and the Travelers, a serious car accident nearly ended his life. The chauffeur was killed. Sam Cooke was fortunate enough to escape with slight injuries. But Lou was in serious condition and was mistakenly pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. He survived the accident although he had slipped into a coma for 5 1/2 days. He suffered from  memory loss for months and it took a year to complete recovery. The accident made him see life differently. He saw many reasons to live. He began to learn all of the elements that had been lacking from his life like acceptance, direction, understanding and perception. 
 
Lou played small R&B, pop and soul clubs in Los Angeles. He performed at Pandora's Box Coffee Shop for $10 a night plus pizza in late 1959. Nick Venet, a producer at Capitol saw him perform and was extremely impressed with his four-octave range that he invited him to make an audition tape. With that done, Lou was signed to Capitol. His debut album was I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water. It became the first of more than 20 albums on Capitol in only a decade. Lou shot to the top with Love Is A Hurtin' Thing in 1966. It was nominated for two Grammy Awards, for Best R&B Recording and Best R&B Solo Vocal Performance.
 
His records, World of Trouble and Tobacco Road were each more than seven minutes long. Today, some critics consider it "pre-rap." But Lou had admitted that the style had grown out of necessity. He worked at small joints where the stage was located behind the bar. The performer stood right over the cash register and crushed ice machine. He would sing and the waitress would suddenly yell out the drinks order. And then the bartender would put the ice in the crusher. Lou needed a way to get the attention of the audence. So it began that he just started talking the song to the music. This style became so popular that Lou's 1967 album Dead End Street garnered him his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance.
 
In 1971, he won Downbeat magazine's poll for favorite male vocalist. He had beat out perennial champ Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra praised Lou for having "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game." He started out in the 1970's with his second Grammy Award for Natural Man. During the late 1970's disco was extremely popular. Lou balked at the trend with its repetitionous beat. A lyric had to mean something to him, something that has happened to him. He tried to look for songs that the average person could relate to. Other artists gave in to the beat. Lou, on the other hand moved to Philadelphia International. Producers/songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were well known for their Philly sound. The result was that Lou's next song, You'll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine) became his biggest hit. The following year, he had won his third Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance for Unmistakably Lou.
 
Greatly known for his extensive charity work, Lou became the corporate spokesman for Amheuser Busch, the world's leading brewery. In 1980, this lead to the company's sponsorship for two events which still continues today. The first was a series of concerts for American military personnel on bases around the world and the second was a telethon with proceeds which are now more than $200 million. They are donated to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). He also sponsors a celebrity golf tournament in Los Angeles to raise money for UNCF. 
 
His humanitarian efforts have been extremely rewarding. They have earned him many honors and a street named after him in Chicago. South Wentworth Avenue became Lou Rawls Drive. Lou never went to college, but his tireless work and importance on getting a solid education has enabled others to go. He has been awarded numerous honorary doctorates. The most recently noted from Florida Memorial College. But his work for UNCF has been a great personal joy. He has said that he remembered a woman who approached him once to say, "Thank you. You made my grandson the first college grad in our family." He add, "That makes it all worth it."
 
Lou furthered his career by branching out into acting. His TV appearances include This Is Tom Jones (1969); Western drama The Big Valley in 1969, Detective series Mannix (1972), The Fall Guy (1981) and Baywatch in 1992. He was also cast as a regular during the first season in the Baywatch spin-off, Baywatch Nights as Lou Raymond, owner of nightclub, Baywatch Nights.
 
His movie credits include The Blues Brothers 2000 (1998), Watchers Reborn (1998), Everything's Jake (2000), Bel Air (2000), The Code Consiracy in 2001 and Betaville (2001). His most recent movie is Uh Oh! (2003). 
 
In 1998 Lou released the album Season 4 U on his own then newly created record label, Rawls & Brokaw Records. With his extremely busy schedule, Lou continues to tour from clubs to jazz festivals around the world. He has appeared at scheduled events at the Kona Brewing Company in Kona, Hawaii on November 1, 2003; The Jefferson Theater in Beaumont, Texas on November 2, 2003; the Blue Note in New York, New York on November 13-16 and the Scullers Jazz Club in Boston Massachusetts on November 19-22, 2003. He also had a guest appearance for The Wayne Brady Show on December 8, 2003.
 

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ACHIEVEMENTS & AWARDS [FULL LIST] 
 
FACTS
-His great voice by one critic has been described as, "sweet as sugar, soft as velvet, strong as steel, smooth as butter."
-Frank Sinatra once described them both as saloon singers. "Voices that's all, reaching into hearts and souls."
-Started out in Gospel and was a member of his Baptist church's choir at seven.
-Was classmate and friend of the late Sam Cooke. 
-Enlisted in 1955 and served in the United States Army's 82nd Airborne Division (All Americans) as a paratrooper for three years. Earned Sergeant rank. 
-While touring the South with Sam Cooke and the Travelers, a serious car accident nearly ended his life. 
-Many critics consider his popular 1960's records World of Trouble and Tobacco Road "'pre-rap." They were so popular that it launched the 1967 album Dead End Street.
-The first Black astronaut in space, Lt. Col. Guion Bluford took Lou's album that contained the hit single Wind Beneath My Wings with him on a 1983 Space Shuttle voyage. A hit song can't get any higher than that!
-Has a street named after him in Chicago-Lou Rawls Drive.
-Never went to college, but his extensive and tireless charity work for United Negro College Fund (UNCF) still enables others the opportunity to go 
-Rewarded with many honorary doctorate degrees.
-Tours military bases around the world to entertain the troups.
-After beating out Frank Sinatra in Downbeat magazine's 1971 for favorite male vocalist, Mr. Sinatra has praised Lou by saying that he has, "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game."
-Has an amazing career as a recording artist with more than 75 albums, 3 Grammy Awards, 13 Grammy Award nominations, 1 platinum album, 5 gold albums and a gold single. 
-Speaks in highschools to teenagers about staying in school and stresses the importance of going on college.
-Acheived the great feat of having five albums on the charts at the same time! 
-Was released from Bernalillo County Jail in Albuquerque, New Mexico after being arrested on one count of battery against his companion, Nina Inman.
-Former companion Margaret Schaffer filed a suit against him for $12 million, claiming that he backed out of a verbal agreement to support her finacially even if they broke up.
-Can be heard singing background on several Sam Cooke's 1960's classics.
-Hit Broadway with his one-man show in the 1970's and was back on Broadway in appearing in Smokey Joe's Cafe in 1999.
 
CHARITIES
-Corporate spokesman for Amheuser Busch, the world's leading brewery. In 1980, this lead to the company's sponsorship for two events which still continues today.
-A series of concerts for American military personnel on bases around the world
-His telethon, the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, has now raised more than $200 million. The proceeds are donated to the United Negro College Fund.  
-Sponsors a celebrity golf tournament to raise money for UNCF
 

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