Etta James has passed away at the age of 73. The cause of death was leukemia. I’m glad I got a chance to see her in concert — Inn of the Beginning, Cotati, CA, 1980.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President Terry Stewart said:
“Etta James was a pioneer. Her ever-changing sound has influenced rock and roll, rhythm and blues, pop, soul and jazz artists, marking her place as one of the most important female artists of our time. From Janis Joplin to Joss Stone, an incredible number of performers owe their debts to her. There is no mistaking the voice of Etta James, and it will live forever.”
Her hits included “Dance With Me Henry,” “At Last,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” “Stop the Wedding” and “It Must Be Love.”
Her career started in the early 1950s when she was discovered by Johnny Otis, who coincidentally passed away just yesterday at age 90. Johnny Otis was best known for his 1960 (give or take a year) hit “Willie and the Hand Jive.” But he was a huge behind-the-scenes player all through the 1950s and ‘60s.
Beyoncé played the role of Etta James in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records. In response to Etta James’ death, Beyoncé released the following statement:
“This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed.”