Gospel legend Edwin Hawkins passed away on Monday morning, he was 74.
Hawkins died at his home in Pleasanton, Calif. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, his publicist Bill Carpenter told The Associated Press.
Hawkins was regarded as a pioneer of urban gospel music, blending gospel hymns with secular sound. He is best-known for the 1969 hit Oh Happy Day.
Oh Happy Day, featuring the vocals of Dorothy Combs Morrison, was released as a single credited to the Edwin Hawkins Singers and became a million-seller in 1969, showing there was a large market for gospel songs and inspirational music during the turbulent era of the late 1960s.
“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 and his siblings were part of the popular music group, the Hawkins Family. He and his brother, Walter Hawkins, who died in 2010, were self-taught keyboard players in Oakland, California, who recorded their first record to raise money for their church.
Hawkins went on to make dozens of records and won four Grammys in all, including for the songs Every Man Wants to Be Free and Wonderful!
In 2007, he was voted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzj3pOdCOqU[/embedyt]