Singing Legend Etta James Dies at 73

by | January 20, 2012 at 12:08 PM | Music

Etta James (AP Images)

Legendary singer Etta James has died at the age of 73, according to her longtime manager, Lupe De Leon. CNN reports that James passed away this morning at a hospital in Riverside, California. She had suffered for years from dementia and hepatitis C, and in 2010 was diagnosed with leukemia.

Dubbed the “Matriarch of R&B,” James enjoyed a highly successful, albeit wildly dynamic, career. A six-time Grammy winner, she made her mark on the music world with a string of R&B and pop hits that included indelible classics such as “The Wallflower,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” and “At Last,” the latter of which was famously performed by Beyonce at the inauguration of President Obama.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s career was pockmarked by struggles with a heroin addiction, legal issues, and ongoing health problems, which in the past few years also included Alzheimer’s and what her family described to CNN as “drug-induced dementia.” James gained a reputation for persevering through the hard times, however, and was regarded by many in her later years as a living legend. She is cited as an inspiration by many of today’s most successful singers, including Beyonce and Adele, who in an interview with Cosmo named James and Aretha Franklin as her favorite singers.

“If you were to look up the word singer in the dictionary, you’d see their names,” Adele said.

“This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” De Leon told CNN. “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 her always.”

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