Grammy-winning gospel star Edwin Hawkins has passed away on Monday 15 Jan, at his home in Pleasanton, California, according to the New York Times.
Hawkins’ publicist, Bill Carpenter, told the publication that he died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
The late musician was best known for the 1969 hit “Oh Happy Day.”
“It was recorded on a friend’s little two-track machine,” Hawkins explained to The Modesto Bee in 2008. “It was never intended for commercial purposes at all.”
As the Hawkins-arranged tune became forged its lyrics into households around the world, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, saw their song rise to number 4 on Billboard’s pop chart and number two on the R&B chart.
“I think our music was probably a blend and a crossover of everything that I was hearing during that time,” Hawkins told blackmusic.com in 2015. “We grew up hearing all kinds of music in our home. My mother, who was a devout Christian, loved the Lord and displayed that in her lifestyle.”
He continued: “My father was not a committed Christian at that time but was what you’d call a good man,” he said. “And, of course, we heard from him some R&B music but also a lot of country and western when we were younger kids.”
In 1970, the song helped Hawkins take home to gong for Best Soul Gospel Performance at the Grammys.
Major stars like Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, and Glen Campbell even recorded their own versions of “Oh Happy Day.” But younger music lovers might recall hearing the legendary song remade on the soundtrack of Sister Act 2.
Tributes have since flooded in on Twitter to commemorate the late star.
Sending love to his family during this difficult time.