The soul singer Fontella Bass, best known for her 1965 hit “Rescue Me,” died Wednesday night (December 26) in St. Louis of complications stemming from a heart attack she suffered several weeks earlier. She was 72.
“Rescue Me,” which — as Billboard notes — topped the R&B charts and reached #4 on the Hot 100, is probably best known to the younger generation for its prominent usage in the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film Sister Act, as well as in many commercials. Bass had two other Top 40 hits and continued performing in successive decades, but her health had declined following a stroke in 2005.
New York Daily News notes that Bass spent much of her career trying to obtain royalties for “Rescue Me,” for which she never received a co-writing credit; she was known for saying that her struggle to do so had damaged her reputation in the industry and branded her “as a troublemaker.” She is survived by her four children.
Fontella Bass — “Rescue Me”