Soul singer Fontella Bass, best known for the hit single Rescue Me, has died of complications following a heart attack at the age of 72.
Fontella Bass had been in poor health for much of the past seven years.
Rescue Me reached the top of the US R&B chart in 1965 and is one of the best known soul songs. It has been covered by many artists.
The singer had a powerful voice and a background steeped in music.
Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers and Fontella Bass began performing at a young age, singing in her church’s choir at the age of six.
Like many of her generation, Fontella Bass graduated to soul and R&B in the 60s, signing to Chess Records.
Soul singer Fontella Bass, best known for the hit single Rescue Me, has died of complications following a heart attack at the age of 72
Fontella Bass first found success in a duet with Bobby McClure on Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing and You’ll Miss Me (When I’m Gone).
She co-wrote Rescue Me, a song her daughter Neuka Mitchell said “held a special place in her heart”.
But it took years of legal battles for her to receive full royalty rights to the song. A final settlement was reached more than 20 years after the song was first released.
Neuka Mitchell said her mother was an outgoing person.
“She had a very big personality. Any room she entered, she just lit the room up, whether she was on stage or just going out to eat.”
Fontella Bass was married to the great jazz trumpeter, Lester Bowie, who was her musical director.
She died in the city where she was born, St Louis, Missouri.
Etta James, the US soul singer best known for the tracks At Last and for I’d Rather Go Blind, has died aged 73.
It was announced last year that Etta James had been diagnosed with leukaemia and was undergoing treatment.
Etta James began singing in a group aged 14, before she embarked upon a solo career where she signed to the legendary Chess Records label.
The singer went on to win six Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Legendary producer Jerry Wexler once called her “the greatest of all modern blues singers”.
Etta James’ manager said she died at Riverside Community Hospital in California with her husband and sons at her side.
“It’s a tremendous loss for her fans around the world,” Lupe De Leon said.
“She’ll be missed. A great American singer. Her music defied category.”
Etta James began singing in a group aged 14, before she embarked upon a solo career where she signed to the legendary Chess Records label
Born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938, her mother was only 14 years old, and she never knew her father.
Raised mainly by friends and relatives, Etta James began singing when her grandparents took her to a Baptist Church, where she joined the choir as a soloist.
Later, in San Francisco, she formed a singing group called the Creolettes, who were discovered by bandleader Johnny Otis, who coincidentally also died this week.
The band recorded together for a number of years but it was not until 1960, when Etta James signed to the legendary Chess Records as a solo artist, that she began to achieve musical recognition.
It was for this label that Etta James released her two most acclaimed albums, At Last and The Second Time Around.
The former included her impassioned cover of Muddy Waters’ I Just Want To Make Love To You, which is considered the predominant interpretation of the song – and gave Etta James her biggest chart hit in the UK, landing at number five in 1996 after it was featured in an advert for Diet Coke.
However, her success in the 1960s was hindered by an addiction to heroin, and she was forced to rebuild her career after quitting the drug in 1974.
Although Etta James was popular on the R&B and blues scene throughout her career, mainstream success eluded her for many years.
Etta James did not receive her first Grammy Award until 1994, for the album Mystery Lady, which consisted of covers of Billie Holiday songs. In 2003, Etta James was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.