Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Just Like A Natural Man

Consider for a moment...

Mr. Lou Rawls.

He passed away Friday the 6th, from cancer. He was either 70 or 72, folks weren't sure.

Lou was an amazing singer, good friend to Sam Cooke (he was one of Cooke's pallbearers) and nemesis to Bobby Womack (supposedly because Bobby married Sam's girl... or slept with her, or something Lou didn't take to kindly to). He had a four octave vocal range and he used to to wow the crowds, be it jazzy, funky or just plain talky. Lou was a big talker, fond of introducing his songs with a setup, dramatically, to draw the listener in. People dug it.

While talking about Lou to a friend the other day, I realized that the second concert I ever saw was Mr. Lou Rawls. (The first was Donny and Marie.) I think it was around 1980. He was playing at the Del Mar Fair. In the summertimes, my dad worked at the Del Mar Fair (we liked to say he was a carny, but he was really just friends with all the carnies and sold beer and burgers) and he'd get us in for free all the time, which was pretty awesome. This particular evening, though, my mom was performing onstage with Lou Rawls. She was a dancer, but at this particular time, she was a Jazzercise instructor and for some reason, Lou was having a couple Jazzercise instructors onstage with him doing a routine to one of his songs. So I had to go, because my mom was in it, and I was taking pictures.

I don't remember anything about the show. We have one picture at the house though, of my mom standing next to Lou Rawls. She's Latina, so she has this post-sweaty short frizzy brown hair with a flower in it, and is wearing some sort of muumuu with an Indian (like the country) pattern over her leotard & tights, and a HUGE smile on her face. Lou, on the other hand, is so black that my mom's beige skin looks bleached, and he's wearing a completely white suit and smiling the smoothest smile you ever saw. I do remember thinking he was awfully nice.

I'd scan the picture for you if it wasn't hanging in a frame somewhere in San Diego, but trust me, it's priceless. Much like the man.