Etta James dies aged 73

January 20, 2012 by staff 

Etta James dies aged 73Etta James dies aged 73, US soul singer Etta James has died in a California hospital from complications related to leukaemia. James (73), who also suffered from dementia and Hepatitis C, died today in at the Riverside Community Hospital with her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons by her side, according to her longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon.

“This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” Mr De Leon said. “She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category.”

The Grammy-winner and Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame member, a feisty and outspoken personality off-stage who overcame heroin addiction, is perhaps best known for such hits as The Wallflower, Something’s Got a Hold on Me and the wedding favourite At Last.

During her 50-year career, she won six Grammy Awards and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

She was discovered in the 1950s in San Francisco by singer Johnny Otis, who also died this week. Otis composed her first hit, The Wallflower which gained chart success in 1955.

The platinum blonde’s first hit was a saucy R&B number about sex, and she was known as a hell-raiser who had tempestuous relationships with her family, her men and the music industry. Then she spent years battling a drug addiction that she admitted sapped away at her great talents.

“The bad girls … had the look that I liked,” she wrote in her 1995 autobiography, Rage to Survive. ”I wanted to be rare, I wanted to be noticed, I wanted to be exotic as a Cotton Club chorus girl, and I wanted to be obvious as the most flamboyant hooker on the street. I just wanted to be.”

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