R.I.P. Etta James

Tom Breihan | January 20, 2012 - 12:02 pm

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the great soul and blues wailer Etta James died of complications from leukemia this morning in Riverside, California. She was 73.

As a teenager, James was discovered in 1950 by the bandleader Johnny Otis (who also died this week), and she scored her first minor hit, “Roll With Me, Henry,” in 1954. She toured with Little Richard and went on to sign with the great blues and early-rock label Chess, where she recorded for 18 years. Her best-known song, “At Last,” is one of the all-time classic first-dance wedding jams, but she had many, many other hits. She also overcame heroin addiction and continued to perform and record until very recently. Beyoncé, who played James in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records (and who James didn’t seem to like too much), sang “At Last” to President Obama at his Inaugural Ball.

Below, watch some videos of James performing.

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