Grammy-winning gospel artist Andrae Crouch died Thursday, his representative confirmed to the Los Angeles Times. He was 72.
Crouch, a Los Angeles native, died about 4:30 p.m. at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles from complications after having a heart attack on Saturday, according to Brian Mayes.
Crouch's "Let the Church Say Amen" Celebration Tour was postponed last month due to illness.
Crouch, an award-winning singer and composer, also worked as a producer and arranger for such artists as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elton John and Diana Ross.
Although he had studied elementary education in college and worked as a counselor for recovering drug abusers, he was driven to a musical career.
Crouch formed a group called the Disciples in the mid-1960s and released his first album, "Take the Message Everywhere," in 1971. In 1972, he launched his solo career with "Just Andrae" while continuing to tour with the Disciples, including sold-out concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1975 and 1979.
Crouch and the Disciples won the first of several Grammy Awards in 1978. By the early 1980s his success at merging gospel music with pop was drawing criticism as well as plaudits.
Many church traditionalists "do think my music is trash," he told The Times in 1982.
"That doesn't bother me," Crouch said then. "I'm going to do what I think is right. Every song I've written takes you through the scriptures and reinforces the word of God. I give people a beautiful message, but I do it with pop, rock, funk, jazz or disco or anything that will make it appealing."
He took over as pastor at his father's Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima in the mid-1990s, after both his parents and his brother died within months of each other. Attendance at the church soared.
In 1998, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Assn.'s Hall of Fame in Nashville.
That year he also defied his Church of God in Christ denomination's ban on ordaining women by making his sister Sandra a co-pastor of his father's Pacoima church, which they renamed the New Christ Memorial Church.
"With the problems that young people have, God wants to use everybody who has the Word in them," he said at the time. "God is pulling out every stop."
Crouch won five Grammys, had a Gold Record for "Jesus Is the Answer," was the Soul Gospel Artist for Billboard Magazine in 1975 and 1977, and won a Dove Award in 1978.
Crouch is survived by his sister.