Mrs. James died early Friday at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, Calif., of complications from leukemia, according to her manager, Lupe De Leon. She was 73.
On January 14, 2011, it was announced that James had been diagnosed with leukemia and was undergoing treatment. She was hospitalized in May 2011 with a urinary tract infection and the blood infection known as sepsis. On December 16, 2011, it was announced that she was under 24-hour care and is terminally ill from the cancer she has been battling throughout 2011. Her manager, Lupe De Leon, stated then to the media that she is "in the final stages of leukemia", has been diagnosed with both dementia and Hepatitis C, has been placed on oxygen, is receiving constant care from her husband, and is being visited regularly by her sons. De Leon went on to say, "We're all very sad. We're just waiting..."
Etta James whose style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz. Starting her career in the mid 1950s, she gained fame with hits such as "Dance With Me, Henry", "At Last", "Tell Mama", and "I'd Rather Go Blind" for which she claimed she wrote the lyrics. She faced a number of personal problems including drug addiction before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album, The Seven Year Itch.
James was loosely portrayed by Beyonce Knowles in the film, Cadillac Records, which was loosely based on the rise and fall of James' label of 18 years, Chess Records, and how label founder and producer Leonard Chess helped the career of James and other label mates. The film also portrayed that "At Last" was a huge pop hit upon its release but the single was only a minor charted single when it was initially released and James had bigger hits following its release.
Etta James set a musical standard and she will be missed. I send my condolences to her family at this time.