Popular R&B musician who wrote many hit songs performed by others and had his own hit album Dream Girl in 1953.
He wrote the song Earth Angel, the first legitimate crossover R&B hit, which he said was inspired by a neighboring young white woman.
His rising career was paused after he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After his return, a head-on car collision ended his life.
He was born in San Antonio, Texas, and moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was five.
He and Sam Cooke were contemporaries.