Obit of the Day: Etta James
Winner of four Grammy awards and an inductee into the Rock and Roll, Blues, Grammy and Rockabilly Halls of Fame, legendary singer Etta James passed away. Ms. James had suffered from leukemia and associated health problems. She was 73 years old; dying just days before her 74th birthday.
Etta James was a vocal prodigy. At the age of 14 the Los Angeles native began recording with a doo wop group, The Peaches. When she was 18 they hit #1 on the Blues charts with “The Wallflower”
Random note: “The Wallflower” was also called “Roll With Me Henry” and “Dance With Me Henry.” For many of OOTD’s readers, you’ve most likely heard it in Back to the Future during Marty McFly’s skateboard chase scene.
After the success of “The Wallflower” James signed a contract with a subsidiary of the legendary Chess Records. She recorded several R&B hits with Harvey Fuqua and sang back-up vocals on Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” James’ solo career took off with the release of At Last! which included the single of the same title which hit #1 on the R&B charts and #47 on the pop charts. It became her signature song. Over the next decade and a half James ws nominated for four Grammy awards but never won.
Unfortunately with success for came trouble - a heroin addiction. Her production dropped off and she seemed to be destined for failure. However by the late 1980s she kicked her habit and was able to revive her career.
Between 1989 and 2007 Ms. James was nominated for ten Grammy Awards; she won four. It was also during this time that he was named to four different music halls of fame, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named the 22nd best singer and 62nd best performer by Rolling Stone magazine.
(“The Wallflower” from The Complete Modern & Kent Years is copyright of Virgin Records)
Note: “Wallflower” was written by yesterday’s OOTD, Johnny Otis.