Etta James Dies At 73

January 20, 2012

Sad news to report this morning, Etta James dies at the age of 73 after a long battle with leukemia. The legendary blues singer, whose version of “At Last” is a classic, died at Riverside Community Hospital in California, with her family by her side. The musical world has lost a great one.

Etta James

James’ manager, Lupe De Leon, confirmed the sad news of her passing to CNN this morning:

“This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world. She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always.”

During a musical career that spanned 50 years, Ms. James was a multiple Grammy winner and was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. In addition to the iconic “At Last”, she would later release hits such as “Id Rather Go Blind” (see the video below, gives me goosebumps each time I watch it) and “Tell Mama”, just to name a few.

She served as an inspiration to many singers, including Celine Dion, Bonnie Raitt, Adele, Christina Aguilera and Beyonce. Bey even portrayed the R&B legend in the 2008 motion picture “Cadillac Records”. “At Last” was sung by Beyonce when President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle took to the floor for their inaugural dance. James was said to have been a tad bit upset that she wasn’t the one chosen to sing her iconic hit, and blasted Bey’s performance. James later said that her comments were all in jest.

Born Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, her mother, 14-year-old Dorothy Hawkins, never disclosed who James’ father was. Musical success came during the 50’s and 60’s, and on a personal level, Ms. James had battled drug addiction during the 60’s and 70’s. In 1988, she sought treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic.

She dropped out of the public eye in January of 2010, when she was admitted to the hospital with MRSA. Her son, Donto James, at the time revealed that James had also been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, which she had been diagnosed with in 2009. Additionally, she had long been treated for leukemia, and last December, doctors announced that it was terminal.

RIP Etta James. You will never be forgotten.

Etta James Etta James Etta James

Photos: M. Barraza/PNP/Carrie Devorah

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