Famous blues singer, Etta James, known from songs such as At Last and Something’s Got A Hold On Me died in southern California. According to Lupe De Leon, James died early Friday, at Riverside Community Hospital in Los Angeles. The cause of her death was complications of leukemia. She had been undergoing treatment for leukemia and dementia. She would have turned 74 Wednesday. Etta James, born Jamesetta Hawkins, started singing in her church choir and on the radio at the age of 5 in Los Angeles, CA. She moved to San Francisco, CA at the age of 12, where she was a part of a trio.
In 1954, she moved back to Los Angeles to record “The Wallflower” with the Otis band. This same year, she shortened her first name to Etta James and began her solo career shortly after. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, James made plenty of hits after signing to Chess Records in Chicago. Although, she had some heroin problems, that didn’t stop her from creating chart toppers such as All I Could Do Was Cry, At Last, Trust In Me, and In The Basement. Her album in 1973, “Etta James” earned a Grammy nomination. In 1977, James signed and stayed with Warner Brothers Records.
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 after she signed to Private Records. James continued to perform and record during the 1990’s and 2000’s. In 2003, she had gastric bypass surgery and lost over 200 pounds. In 2008, her early singing days was brought to big screen in Cadillac Records, with singer Beyonce Knowles playing James in the film. James publicly supported the film, but when Beyonce sang her version of At Last at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball in January 2009, there were allegations that James was upset that Knowles sang “her song”.
As James entered her seventies, she began struggling with health issues. She was hospitalized in 2010 for blood infection.. In November 2011, James released her latest studio album, The Dreamer. A few weeks later, her doctor announced that the singer was terminally ill. It was revealed that she was in the final stages of leukemia, and she was also diagnosed with dementia and Hepatits C. She passed away January 20, 2012, leaving her precious memories to her husband, Artis Mills and her two sons, Donto and Sametto James.