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Silas Roy Crain; Founder of Soul Stirrers Gospel Quartet

September 18, 1996|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Silas Roy Crain, founder and manager of the Soul Stirrers gospel quartet, who was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Gospel Hall of Fame, has died. He was 85.

Crain, known as "S.R." or "Senior," was the last surviving member of the group. He died Saturday in Vallejo, Calif.

He brought Sam Cooke into the Soul Stirrers, and later served as Cooke's road manager, business partner and advisor when Cooke became a rock 'n' roll star.

Last year, Crain coauthored a best-selling book about Cooke's turbulent career, titled "You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke." The book won the Ralph J. Gleason Award as best music book of 1995.

Born in Augustine, Texas, Crain sang as a teenager with a group that called itself the Soul Stirrers. When he moved to Houston in 1932 and joined a quartet, he took the name with him and founded the professional group.

The Soul Stirrers were known for the innovative use of four men singing tight, light harmony plus a fifth as lead singer, originally R.J. Harris and later Cooke.

Crain wrote and arranged many of the songs they performed, including, "Jesus, I'll Never Forget," "He'll Welcome Me" and "It Won't Be Very Long."

Among the group's albums were "The Soul Stirrers, Featuring Sam Cooke," "Strength, Power and Love," "The Soul Stirrers, Featuring R.H. Harris," "Jesus Gave Me Water" and "The Last Mile of the Way." After Cooke's death in 1964, Crain continued to write gospel music and perform at special events.

Crain is survived by his wife, Myrtis; a son, Steven; two daughters, Loretta Vaugn and Delores Smith; 14 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday ( at the Union Baptist Church in Vallejo.

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