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Etta James Dies At 73

Etta James Dies At 73

01/20/2012

Singing legend Etta James, whose soulful voice spanned six decades and multiple genres — including R&B, soul, jazz, and blues — died this morning at the age of 73 in Riverside, California from complications from leukemia.

"This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends, and fans around the world," said friend and manager Lupe De Leon, reports CNN. "She was a true original who could sing it all — her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always."

James was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, and had a history of other health problems, including hepatitis C and dementia. In 2003 she had gastric bypass surgery in order to combat a weight problem, after which she lost more than half of her body weight of over 400 pounds, according to People.

The "At Last" and "Roll with Me Henry" singer, born Jamesetta Hawkins and discovered in 1954 by blues singer Johnny Otis (who also, incidentally, died in Los Angeles just three days ago at the age of 90), also struggled with an addiction to heroin in the '70s and '80s. "It took over my life," she admitted. "You get up every day and look to score." Beyonce portrayed James in the 2008 movie, Cadillac Records, also starring Adrien Brody as record company exec Leonard Chess and Joshua Alscher as Mick Jagger.

After beating her addiction, James continued to do live performances and tours for many years. In 2009 she sang her signature song, "At Last" on Dancing with the Stars. "I took back my life," she said. James is survived by her two sons and her husband, Artis Mills, who were all by her side at the time of her death. She would have turned 74 on Wednesday.

Watch James sing on Dancing with the Stars:

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Read more: Etta James, Johnny Otis, R&B, jazz, Beyonce, Dancing with the Stars

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