R.I.P. Etta James


Etta James, the R&B and blues singer known for singing “At Last” died this morning at a hospital in Riverside, California due to complications from leukemia. The Los Angeles native started her career as a teenager when she started The Creolettes. Johnny Otis met the group and helped them get a deal with Modern Records. They changed their name to The Peaches and in 1955 James had her first hit song with “Dance With Me, Henry” co-written by Otis, James and Hank Ballard. She had another hit with the song “Good Rockin’ Daddy” and then she left the group and signed with Chess Records in 1960. It was during her years at Chess that she had a string of successful singles with Harvey Fuqua and as a solo act. “If I Can’t Have You” and “Spoonful” were duets.” It was during this time period that she recorded “At Last” in addition to “A Sunday Kind Of Love,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” “The Fool That I Am,” “Don’t Cry Baby” were solo hits. She released the live album, Etta Rocks The House in 1963. After a couple of years away from the music scene she reemerged in 1967 after recording at the Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. “Tell Mama” and the blues classic “I’d Rather Go Blind” come from this time period. Etta Is Betta Than Evah and Deep in the Night were her last recordings for Chess Records in 1978. James came back to her music career in 1987 when she made an appearance in the Chuck Berry documentary “Hail! Hail! Rock n Roll.” In 1992 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A tribute recording to Billie Holiday titled Mystery Lady was released in 1993 and earned her a Grammy. A Rage To Survive was an autobiography co-authored with David Ritz and hit store shelves in 1995. She ultimately won 6 Grammys including the Lifetime Achievement honor and also received induction into the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Her fame rose in 2008 when Beyonce portrayed her in the film “Cadillac Records” which was a loose retelling of the Chess Records story. James’ last recording is 2011’s The Dreamer.