By Marcus Leshock
WGN Feature Reporter
8:44 AM PST, January 20, 2012
Sad day in the music world.
Etta James had been battling leukemia. Her manager has confirmed to multiple outlets that she has died. James was 73.
Most know James for her legendary hit "At Last".....
But that was just a taste of the singer's incredible body of work. CNN has a nice writeup this morning...
The powerhouse singer, known as "Miss Peaches," lived an eventful life. She first hit the charts as a teenager, taking "The Wallflower (Roll With Me, Henry)" -- an "answer record" to Hank Ballard's "Work With Me, Annie" -- to No. 1 on the R&B charts in 1955. She joined Chess Records in 1960 and had a string of R&B and pop hits, many with lush string arrangements. After a mid-decade fade, she re-emerged in 1967 with a more hard-edged, soulful sound.
Throughout her career, James overcame a heroin addiction, opened for the Rolling Stones, won six Grammys and was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite her ups and downs -- including a number of health problems -- she maintained an optimistic attitude.
The New York Daily News has more on her battles with addiction, and her late career resurgancee....
“No one who wasn’t there could understand how hard someone like Etta had to fight,” the late Ruth Brown said in 1998. Brown, Lavern Baker and Della Reese, along with James, were some of the early female artists who to this day remain downplayed in early rock ‘n’ roll history.
Ironically, it was a car commercial that ultimately helped secure James’s stature.
In the early 1990s, Jaguar licensed “At Last” in a lavish, memorable television ad that gave the song far wider popular exposure than it had after its original release in 1961. It was a No. 2 R&B hit then, but only reached No. 47 on the pop charts.
James's music was featured in more than commercials. George McFly's "density" would never have been complete without "Wallflower" playing over the "Back to the Future" soundtrack. It's hard to hear in this clip, but the kids in Hill Valley were jamming out to Etta James....
More on Etta James from around the web...
- The New York Times obit has more on her career, including her signing with Chicago's Chess Records.
- USA Today has put together a "recommended listening" list.
- Digital Spy has compiled her "five most memorable songs."
Have a favorite Etta James performance? I'll leave you with this....
She will be missed.