Etta James | 1974
15 Images

Etta James | 1938-2012

Etta James | 1974
Muhammad Ali chats with Etta James at the piano at the Kinshasa Hotel in Zaire in September 1974. James and other African American musicians were in the country to perform at the Zaire 74 music festival. The concert was organized as a promotional event to coincide with the heavyweight championship boxing match between Ali and George Foreman(Horst Faas / Associated Press)
Etta James | 1976
Etta James performs at L.A.'s Cocoanut Grove nightclub in 1976. Despite her early commercial success, she struggled for much of her life with her weight, with addictions to heroin, cocaine and alcohol and with her tumultuous relationship with her mother, who was just 14 when she gave birth to Jamesetta Hawkins on Jan. 25, 1938. (Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 1985
Etta James is best known for “At Last,” the powerhouse ballad that became a hit in 1961 and which holds a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Channeling a sense of joy that sounded like the gates of heaven had just opened to welcome her in, James sang, “At last, my love has come along/My lonely days are over/My life is like a song.” (Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 1987
Singer Etta James performs at the Vine Street Bar & Grill in Hollywood in April 1987. In the mid-1970s, after getting caught writing bad checks to support her drug habit, James was offered a choice between prison or rehab. She chose the latter, and kicked heroin, but started using cocaine a few years later. A spiritual epiphany led her to give up cocaine and alcohol, and starting in the 1980s she began a personal and professional renaissance, opening her own company, Etta James Enterprises, and reestablishing her credibility in the music world. (Alison Wise / Associated Press)
Etta James | 1988
Singer Etta James in 1988. Her six-decade recording career began at the top of the R&B charts when her bawdy 1955 single “The Wallflower,” better known as “Roll With Me Henry,” quickly made her a national star. (Gary Nichamin / Associated Press)
Etta James | 1989
Etta James at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 13, 1989. The child of a single teenage mother growing up in South Los Angeles during World War II, she never knew her father but remained convinced throughout her life that he was pool shark Minnesota Fats.  (Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 1990
Etta James at the Playboy Jazz Festival in June 1990. Early in her career, she fell under the positive and negative influences of musicians she revered such as Billie Holiday as well as some with whom she crossed paths on the road, including Ray Charles and Chet Baker, all of whom struggled with addiction. “All of my role models at that time, the ones I looked up to most, were heroin addicts,” she told The Times in 1993. “I think subconsciously I thought that was a cool thing.” (Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 1991
Etta James headlined at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1991. She was adored by rock’s elite, including the Rolling Stones, who drafted her in 1979 as the opening act on their U.S. tour, and voters at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who inducted her in 1993.  (Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 1993
Etta James performs at the Orange County Blues Festival in Dana Point in September 1993. (Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 1993
Etta James, left, gets a hug from k.d. lang upon being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. (Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)
Etta James | 1999
Etta James performs at the House of Blues in 1999. She coaxed esteemed R&B producer Jerry Wexler, who had been pivotal in the careers of Aretha Franklin, Ruth Brown, Otis Redding and numerous others, out of retirement to oversee her 1993 album “The Right Time.” At the time, Wexler said, “I’ve never done anything better, and I’ve done a lot of records.” (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 2003
Etta James holds a plaque of her star after an unveiling ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April 2003. In 2002, James, who had struggled with her weight, underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost 200 pounds. She won her first Grammy for her 1994 album of jazz standards, “Mystery Lady.” She collected two more Grammys back to back for 2003’s “Let’s Roll,” honored as best contemporary blues album, and her 2004 collection “Blues to the Bone,” named best traditional blues album. (Nick Ut / Associated Press)
Etta James | 2004
Etta James performs at the 26th annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl in June 2004. James is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. (Los Angeles Times)
Etta James | 2006
Etta James performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April 2006. (Jeff Christensen / Associated Press)
Etta James | 2008
Etta James arrives at the premiere of “Cadillac Records” in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)