Friday, January 20, 2012

Etta James is Dead

Legendary soul singer Etta James died Friday at Riverside Community Hospital in California with her husband and sons were by her side. Born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles to a teen mother and unknown father (she suspected her father was the pool player Minnesota Fats), Etta died from complications of leukemia. She was 73. Etta had been suffering from dementia, kidney problems, and battling leukemia. Last month, her live-in doctor announced that her leukemia was terminal, and asked for prayers for the singer. During her illness, her husband Artis Mills and her two sons fought bitterly over control of her $1 million estate, though a deal was later struck keeping Mills as the conservator and capping the singer’s expenses at $350,000. She was addicted to the drug for years, beginning in 1960, and it led to a harrowing existence that included time behind bars and sapped her singing abilities and her money, almost destroying her career. It would take her at least two decades to beat her drug problem – her husband even went to prison for years, taking full responsibility for drugs during an arrest, even though James was culpable. “My management was suffering. My career was in the toilet. People tried to help, but I was hell-bent on getting high,” she wrote of her drug habit in 1980. “I was a street kid, living in rooming houses,” she said in 1993. “My mother was just 14 years older than me and she had a hard life, too. I was always running away from home, getting in trouble. What motivated me was fear and hard knocks.” After she hit rock bottom, she finally quit the habit and managed herself for a while, calling up small clubs and asking them, “Have you ever heard of Etta James?” in order to get gigs. Her career then had a resurgence. In 1984, she was asked to sing the national anthem at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and her career got the resurgent boost it needed, though she fought addiction again when she got hooked on painkillers in the late 1980s. Drug addiction wasn’t her only problem. She struggled with her weight, and often performed from a wheelchair as she got older and heavier. In the ate 1990s she reportedly weighed more than 400 pounds and required a scooter to get around. In 2003 she had gastric bypass surgery and shed some 200 pounds. She was inducted into the Rock Hall in 1993 and won six Grammys. Etta was portrayed by Beyoncé in the 2008 film "Cadillac Records" and when Beyoncé sang "At Last" at one of President Obama's inaugural balls, Etta Went OFF on Beyoncé and dissed the president. She later said she was joking. But her health went into decline. In perhaps her final high-profile appearance, a 71-year-old James sang her signature “At Last” on ABC-TV’s top-rated reality show “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009. Last October, she retired from recording. We don't want to start nothing, but do police know where little Blue Ivy Carter was last night? Just saying'. (Mrs Carter actually released a statement which read, in part, "I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed."

Everyone knows "At Last", but get into "Tell Mama."

Share this post
  • Share to Facebook
  • Share to Twitter
  • Share to Google+
  • Share to Stumble Upon
  • Share to Evernote
  • Share to Blogger
  • Share to Email
  • Share to Yahoo Messenger
  • More...


Post a Comment