PHOENIX (AP) — Jerry Lawson, for four decades the lead singer of cult favorite a cappella group the Persuasions, has died.

Longtime friend Rip Rense says Lawson died Wednesday at a Phoenix hospice after a long illness. He was 75.

Lawson's smooth baritone led the eclectic sextet revered as the "The Kings of a Cappella" by their small but devoted fan base.

Beginning on the basketball courts and front stoops of Brooklyn in 1962, the Persuasions recorded rock, doo wop, blues, gospel and pop songs, all with no sound other than their own voices.

They had many famous fans including Rod Stewart, the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and Frank Zappa, who gave their career a boost in the late 1960s. Their 25 albums include full-length tributes to Zappa and the Dead.

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