Etta James died of Friday at the age of 73. She had complications of leukemia and passed away with her husband and sons at her side. James is best known for her hit song “At Last”, which has been covered dozens of times.
James’ first hit was about sex and she was known as a “hell-raiser” who had intense relationships with her family, her men and the music industry. She also spent years battling a drug addiction and admitted those issues took away her talents.
Her health worsened, and by 2011, she was at home being taken care of by a personal doctor. She suffered from dementia, kidney problems and leukemia. In December, her physician announced her leukemia was terminal and asked for prayers.
After Etta James passed away on Friday, Beyonce and Adele paid tribute to one of their main inspirations.
After hearing of her death, Beyonce released a statement on her website that said: “This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed.”
Adele wrote: “One of my cousins was a hairdresser so I asked her if she’d do me an Etta James beehive. Everything she sings, you believe her, even if she never wrote a word of it herself. I saw her live in New York not so long ago: extraordinary. There she was, at the age of 71, singing ‘I want to ta ta you, baby’ — almost groping herself, as if the meaning wasn’t clear enough already. She just had so much attitude.”
LeAnn Rimes: “RIP to the wonderfully soulful Etta James. You will always be in our heart & on our radios. What a voice, a sad loss.”
Mariah Carey: “Rest in peace to one of the world’s most influential singers Etta James, you will be missed.”
And Aretha Franklin sent this out:
“Etta James was one of the great soul singers of our generation. An American original! I loved Pushover, At Last and almost any and everything she recorded!!! When Etta SUNG, you heard it!”
Kelly Clarkson also paid tribute to the late Etta James. Kelly fans may remember she sang “At Last” at her audition in the first season of American Idol. During her Stronger concert tour, she covered James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
She told the crowd: ‘This isn’t ‘At Last’ because everyone really covers that and so I wanted to do my favorite, actually. My favorite song is ‘I’d Rather Go Blind.’ So, this is for Etta!”