http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aGpt4CF4u.e0&refer=us Lou Rawls, Singer With a Voice `Soft as Velvet,' Dies at Age 72 Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Singer Lou Rawls, whose ``soft as velvet'' voice sold more than 40 million albums and won three Grammys during a career that spanned four decades, has died of lung cancer. He was 72. Rawls died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was admitted for treatment last month, the Associated Press reported. His estranged wife Nina had said the lung cancer was diagnosed two years ago and that Rawls was informed he had brain cancer last year. Rawls, who lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, had said in an interview with the Arizona Republic last year that he had received alternative and traditional medical treatment. In a note on the first page of his Web site, Rawls wrote a message to his fans about his illness: ``I want to thank everyone for your prayers and expressions of love,'' the message said. ``Your concern touches me but don't count me out. There's been many people who have been diagnosed with this kind of thing, and they're still jumpin' and pumpin'. I'm thinking good thoughts.'' One critic described Rawls's voice as ``sweet as sugar, soft as velvet, strong as steel, smooth as butter.'' Frank Sinatra praised Rawls for having ``the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game.'' ``I've gone the full spectrum -- from gospel to blues to jazz to soul to pop -- and the public has accepted what I've done through it all,'' Rawls said. ``I think it means I've been doing something right at the right time.'' 75 Albums, 3 Grammys Rawls's hits include ``Love Is a Hurtin' Thing,'' ``Dead End Street'' and ``You'll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine).'' He recorded more than 75 albums and won three Grammy awards. He also appeared on television and in movies, including ``Blues Brothers 2000'' and ``Leaving Las Vegas.'' In 1999, Rawls appeared on Broadway for a stint in ``Smokey Joe's Cafe.'' Rawls also was the singing voice of the animated cat Garfield. In 1982, he earned a Grammy nomination for Best Recording for Children for ``Here Comes Garfield'' and was the musical star of the ``Garfield'' TV specials. Raised in Chicago by his grandmother, Rawls began singing gospel at age 7 in the choir of his Baptist church. As a teenager, he began joining doo-wop groups with his classmate Sam Cooke, whose own singing career in the 1950s and 1960s helped provide the early foundation for soul music. After a stint in the Army in the 1950s, Rawls began singing at small clubs in Los Angeles. During one of those shows in 1959, his four-octave voice impressed a record producer who offered Rawls the chance to record an audition tape; it won him a contract with Capitol Records. His ``I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water'' album came out in 1962, the first of more than 20 albums in 10 years for Capitol. By 1971, Rawls's popularity had grown so large that the singer won the Downbeat magazine poll for favorite male singer, beating out perennial favorite Sinatra. As disco took over in the 1970s, Rawls changed record labels and joined Philadelphia International, where Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff honed the so-called Philly sound. ``You'll Never Find'' came out in 1976 and became Rawls's biggest hit.