Etta James, the incendiary blues artist known for her powerful and expressive voice, passed away this morning at her home in Riverside, California.
James’ career spanned six decades - she cut her first song at the age of 15 in 1954 with her group the Creolettes and never looked back. Her hits include “At Last,” "Good Rockin' Daddy" and "I Just Wanna Make Love to You" and she recorded a strong catalog of music that cemented her position as the exemplary female blues singer. Legions of young women followed in her musical footsteps, including many artists who would eclipse James’ success. Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt and Christina Aguilera have all cited James as an influence. Offstage, James’ life exemplified the subject matter of the blues. She struggled with substance abuse, health problems, career ups and downs, jail time, and eventually the leukemia that would take her life. Atlantic Records’ famous producer Jerry Wexler called James “the greatest of all modern blues singers.” James was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
What will Etta James’ legacy be?
Buzzy Jackson, author, “A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them"