Soul legend Etta James, 73, has died died from complications from leukemia at a hospital in Riverside, California. Her friend and manager Lupe De Leon made the announcement. “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” De Leon said. “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.”
CNN reports that De Leon noted James’ sons and husband, Artis Mills, were by her side when she died. The singer would have turned 74 next week, on January 25.
Etta, who was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, released her debut album At Last! in 1960 on the Chess label. The LP contained notable singles, such as “I Just Want To Make Love To You” and her signature song “At Last”.
James’ life and tenure at Chess Records were the subjects of the 2008 film Cadillac Records, in which Beyonce played Etta James. The following year, Beyonce sang “At Last” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
CNN notes that James was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, and also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C.
“Etta James is unmanageable, and I’m the closest thing she’s ever had to a manager,” Lupe De Leon told CNN while speaking about the singer, who was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993.
Though the her pop hits like “All I Could Do Was Cry”, “Pushover” and “Tell Mama” all charted in the 1960s, James’ sampled vocals from 1962 single “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” can currently be heard in both Avicii’s “Levels” and Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” (which is #3 this week on the Billboard Hot 100).
Etta James’ final album, The Dreamer, was released in November.