The singer died this morning at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for lung cancer and brain cancer.
A spokesman says his wife Nina was at his bedside when he died.
His velvet voice sold more than 40 (m) million albums and won three Grammy Awards. His hits included "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine."
In 2001 he told The Associated Press he'd learned from watching other entertainers it was impossible to "burn the candle at both ends and in the middle."
Lou Rawls was 72.