Edwin Hawkins, the Gospel star, known best for the hit “Oh, Happy Day” died yesterday at the age of 74. The legendary composer was found dead in his home in Pleasanton, California.
Hawkins’s publicist told the Associated Press that he’d been suffering from pancreatic cancer.
He will always be remembered for the major force he was in the music industry. Hawkins was considered one of the founders of modern Gospel music, along with Andrae Crouch and James Cleveland.
The New York Times commented, “The record rendered songs of praise with a rhythm-and-blues sensibility. A disc jockey at the Bay Area FM station KSAN, Abe Kesh, began playing one particular track, “Oh Happy Day”… The catchy song spread, and, with the group renamed the Edwin Hawkins Singers, it was released as a single and eventually reached No. 4 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 2 on the R&B chart.”
The hit was performed by other stars at the time, such as by Rock-and-Roll legend Elvis Presley. It was also used in beloved classics like Sister Act II.
In his lifetime, Hawkins was awarded four Grammy Awards, and in 2007, he was voted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame.