He was hospitalized after becoming visibly disoriented at a Christmas-themed concert Dec. 13 in Seal Beach, Calif., and died Monday after being taken off life support, his uncle Paul Riser confirmed.
A Detroit native, Lawson was a sought-after studio and musician and had a storied career that included a Grammy Award for his work with the Yellowjackets, the Detroit Free Press said Wednesday.
"Ricky was the biggest sweetheart, a cuddly bear type, but also the most brilliant drummer I have ever met in my life," said San Diego music promoter Mikey Cohen.
Lawson endorsed the Pearl drum brand, and its president Terry West said on the company website Wednesday Lawson was "one of the greatest drummers of our time. Millions of people have seen him perform with artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Steely Dan, Phil Collins and countless others."
Riser said memorials will be held in Detroit and in Los Angeles.