Etta James, the blastingly hot and juicy soul singer who has inspired so many performers, is terminally ill and hanging on to life by a thread this holiday season.
“I am Southern and Christian and would just ask for the prayers of her fans and friends,” her family doctor, Elaine James (no relation), told The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif. “They know she’s been sick, but not how sick.”
As I write this post, I'm listening to Etta James sing "Something's Got A Hold On Me" in a televised performance from 1962.
Wow. What a voice. What a soul. She owns that song, taking it places it didn't know it could go, growling and shouting when she wasn't delivering a deep melody line in pure low tones.
And look at her face, that round, joyful l'il face peeking out from behind her beehive hairdo and thick dark eyeliner (hello, Amy Winehouse). It's the sweet and hopeful face of a sure-footed girl. The girl who gave us "I'd Rather Go Blind," "At Last," "All I Could Do I Cry," "A Sunday Kind of Love," and the list goes on.
After a life of tough times and beautiful music, Etta James, now 73, is suffering from chronic leukemia and it's not looking good for her. Despite her love troubles, drug addiction and legal problems, she gave us so much during the course of a long career. I hope she knows how much we loved her. I know I did. I'm glad she lived to see her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Peace and prayers and many thanks to Etta James.