While Etta James‘ death at 73 does not come as a surprise, given her rapidly declining health over the last few months, it still strikes a blow to the entertainment world. The “At Last” singer embodies oft-overused terms like “legend” and “icon,” and her fingerprint has been left on the music industry indelibly.
“This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” says her longtime manager, Lupe De Leon. “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
James passed away from leukemia and associated complications at the Riverside Community Hospital in Southern California early on the morning of Friday, January 20. She was with her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons, Donto and Sametto.
She has been ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame, and won her first Grammy in 1994. After battling a heroin addiction in the 1960s and 1970s, James went on to write a memoir, “Rage to Survive.” Her anthem “At Last” kicked off the era of Obama, as Beyonce sang it at his 2009 Inaugural Ball — doing a rendition which did not impress James. In all, James released 27 studio albums.