‘Oh Happy Day’ gospel star Edwin Hawkins dies at 74

Gospel singer Edwin Hawkins performs during an event celebrating Black Music Month in the East Room of the White House on June 17, 2008, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

NEW YORK (AP) — Grammy winner Edwin Hawkins, the gospel star best known for the crossover hit “Oh Happy Day,” has died.

Hawkins died early Monday at his home in Pleasanton, California. He was 74 and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, publicist Bill Carpenter told The Associated Press.

The Edwin Hawkins Singers reached the top 10 on the pop charts with “Oh Happy Day,” a call and response hymn that began as a local favorite in the San Francisco Bay Area and became an international hit in 1969.

The following year the Hawkins singers backed Melanie on her top 10 hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” and won a Grammy for best soul gospel performance for “Oh Happy Day.”