Etta James passed away at the age of 73 after losing her battle with leukemia

As far as ladies singing the blues, I was always partial to Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. But! I did have an Etta James album, and I wore it out. Her voice was like butter, rich and smooth. And now that voice is gone – Etta James has passed away at the age of 73. People Magazine has more details about Etta’s life and death:

Etta James, the powerful blues voice behind the chart-topping 1961 evergreen “At Last,” has died after a lengthy struggle with leukemia. She was 73.

Her longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon, first confirmed the news to CNN. “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” De Leon said. “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.”

Because of her health concerns, James had curtailed her concerts in January 2010 to enter the hospital with a blood infection, among other ailments, including Alzheimer’s disease. In May 2011, James was again admitted to a hospital in Riverside, Calif., with a urinary tract infection and the blood infection sepsis, her son Sametto James told Reuters at the time.

The winner of four Grammys and a 1993 inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, James was portrayed in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records by Beyoncé Knowles. Christina Aguilera also cited James as a major influence.

“There’s a lot going on in Etta James’s voice,” Bonnie Raitt once told Rolling Stone, which ranked James 22nd on its list of the 100 Best Singers of All Time. “A lot of pain, a lot of life but, most of all, a lot of strength. She can be so raucous and down one song, and then break your heart with her subtlety and finesse the next. As raw as Etta is, there’s a great intelligence and wisdom in her singing.”

Born Jamesetta Hawkins
The Los Angeles-born James began singing in church and was discovered in 1954 by bluesman Johnny Otis, who amended her name from Jamesetta Hawkins. Over the next decade she built up a catalog of hits – “Roll with Me Henry,” “Call My Name” and “I’d Rather Go Blind” – along with an addiction to heroin. “It took over my life,” the 5’3″ singer told PEOPLE in 2006, shortly after she had successfully shed 235 of her 400 lbs. through gastric-bypass surgery. “You get up every day and look to score.”

Her drug problems landed husband Artis Mills (whom she married in 1969) behind bars from 1972 to 1982, when he took the fall for the couple’s arrest on heroin-possession charges. James made several trips to rehab, including a 17-month stint in the mid-’70s, without success. Finally, during a 1988 stay in the Betty Ford Clinic, just before her 50th birthday, this time for a codeine addiction, “I took back my life,” says James, who remained clean after that.

Among the Greats
Mills, who has been putting up a legal fight to wrest control of James’s reported $1 million estate from her sons Donto and Sametto James, survives the singing legend, as do her sons.

“Etta always comes through with feeling,” music biographer Peter Guralnick told PEOPLE in 2006. “She coexists with Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday.”

[From People]

Etta was last in the news in 2009, just a few weeks after Barack Obama’s inauguration. Beyonce had covered “At Last” one of Etta’s standards, and Etta was not pleased about that, and she said so publicly. Thoughts and prayers to her family, and I hope Etta is in a better place now.

Here’s Etta doing “At Last”

“I’d Rather Go Blind”

And “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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46 Responses to “Etta James passed away at the age of 73 after losing her battle with leukemia”

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  1. badrockandroll says:

    I was so sad when I heard this. She is one of my favourite singers.

  2. Capella says:

    Rest in peace, Ms James. Her voice, even the thought of it, still gives me chills. The way she starts At Last… No one does it better. No one.

  3. mln76 says:

    A true diva cut from a different cloth from the rest RIP.

  4. brin says:

    Sad news, she was a legend. RIP, Miss James.

  5. sami says:

    love her music one voice that will truely be missed , prayers to her family , RIP.

  6. Rubenesque says:

    So sad to hear this. Like so many other couples “At Last” was one of “our songs.”

  7. Whatever says:

    She’ll be sorely missed. RIP Ms. James!

  8. The Original Mia says:

    So sad. Rest in Peace, Ms. James. You will be missed!

  9. anne_000 says:

    Etta was right. She should have sung that song, not Beyonce. Imo, Beyonce sings thru her nose & is a bit flat.

  10. anon says:

    So Sad, RIP Miss James, your voice will be missed :-(

  11. lw says:

    In a musical climate where over-hyped, marginally talented, boring-ass, “singers” can call themselves the greatest, Etta actually was one of the greatest. I knew it was coming, but somehow it is still shocking.

  12. Messenger says:

    of course i always knew etta james existed but it wasn’t until one weekend at my sister’s house, that her soon to be husband put on seven year itch…and did i ever love her…he listened to some amazing music edith piaf, charles aznavour to name two others (he is tri lingual) there is a song on syi feel like breaking up somebody’s home it is awesome and while i would never do such a terrible thing :) etta sings it from the bottom of her soul. i found a clip on you tube where a group of luminaries are jamming and chuck berry is hearing her for the first time. she does her own version of hoochie koochie man and she blows everyone away. a moment of silence please for the great etta james. rip. i know she is jammin’ in heaven beacuse she already knows how to sing like an angel.

  13. meme says:

    Thank you for “At Last” It was my first dance with my new husband. Rest dear queen.

  14. Amanda G says:

    RIP Etta! At Last is such a beautiful song! I didn’t realize how many hits she had!

  15. Asli says:

    A powerhouse of a voice. Rest in peace, Etta.

  16. malia says:

    I worship at the altar of Ms. James, best voice ever. RIP, Ms. Etta.

    And Beyonce needed to sit down in 2009, seriously….that girl’s a musical klepto.

  17. I Choose Me says:

    RIP dear lady. You will always be remembered.

  18. Agnes says:

    Her voice was nothing short of amazing. Sads.

  19. gg says:

    ONE OF A KIND! Godspeed, sweet lady.

  20. Momo says:

    Her estate is only worth $1 million????!!!!!!

  21. e.non says:

    and awesome and real talent.

    Rest in Peace, Etta James.

  22. Petunia says:

    I’m sorry to hear of this. But leukemia is a horrible, horrible illness and I’m relieved that she’s no longer suffering with it. RIP, Etta, and keep the torch going in the next world.

  23. ccoop says:

    A great lady of song, and a true original. There will never be another like her. RIP Miss Etta.

  24. YvetteW says:

    Saw her at BB Kings in NYC a few years back. She was wheel chair bound at the time. She captivated the audience better than most of the young artists with two legs and backup dancers. RIP Etta. Job well done.

  25. Lacey says:

    Sad :-( Amazing lady, and a true inspiration. RIP Etta!

  26. Mourning the Death of Music says:

    She was my idol. I shall truly miss her. :(

  27. Dana M says:

    Honored to have seen her perform live in Vegas. RIP Etta James.

  28. ccoop says:

    Everybody should go listen to Etta sing “Fool That I Am” right this minute. Now THAT is perfection.

  29. Girl says:

    Legendary. One of the greats.

    Requiescat in pace.

  30. ezra says:

    Awwww Etta….you were the best, and my admiration for you grew tenfold when you refused to kiss Beyonce’s ass. You were talent and class personified.
    Rest in peace beautiful soul.

  31. skuddles says:

    RIP Etta, talented, lovely lady.

  32. JaneWonderfalls says:

    I’m really broken up about this, I knew she was gravely ill, but it is very sad, Etta was one of my favorite singers and performers, she will be truly missed!