Friday, January 20, 2012

R.I.P.: Etta James

Soul and blues legend Etta James has passed away after a battle with leukemia. She was 73.

Born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, James was singing gospel in churches and on radio stations at the age of five. In the mid-50s, she launched a solo career, releasing hits like "Good Rockin' Daddy". In 1960, she signed with Arco, a subsidiary of Chess, and her partnership with the label would be long and fruitful. Working with Chess, James released her most iconic songs, including "All I Could Do Was Cry", "Trust in Me", and the eternal wedding staple "At Last".

During the 1960s, James battled heroin addiction, but she stayed productive, recording the classic 1968 LP Tell Mama with the great Muscle Shoals house band. She recorded for Chess until the mid-70s, and continued releasing albums and touring through the mid-2000s. MORE HERE

As an aside:  In 1950, her mother took her to San Francisco, where James formed a group called the Peaches. Singer Johnny Otis, best known for "Willie and the Hand Jive," discovered her and had her sing a song he wrote using Ballard's tune as a model. "The Wallflower," ...Johnny Otis died earlier this week (see post below)

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