Soul star Fontella Bass dies at 72
Published 27/12/2012 | 19:20
US soul singer Fontella Bass, who hit the top of the R&B charts in 1965 with Rescue Me, has died at the age of 72.
Bass died in a hospice in St Louis, Missouri, of complications from a heart attack suffered three weeks ago, her daughter, Neuka Mitchell, said. She had also suffered a series of strokes over the past seven years.
"She was an outgoing person," Ms Mitchell said. "She had a very big personality. Any room she entered she just lit the room up, whether she was on stage or just going out to eat."
Bass was born into a family with deep musical roots. Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers. Her younger brother, David Peaston, had a string of R&B hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Peaston died in February aged 54.
Bass began performing at a young age, singing in her church's choir at the age of six. Her interest turned to R&B when she was a teenager. She eventually auditioned for Chess Records and landed a recording contract. Her duet with Bobby McClure, Don't Mess Up A Good Thing, reached No 5 in the R&B charts and No 33 in the Billboard Top 100 in 1965.
She co-wrote and later that year recorded Rescue Me, reaching No 1 in the R&B charts and No 4 in the Billboard pop singles chart. Her powerful voice bore a striking resemblance to that of Aretha Franklin, who is often misidentified as the singer of that chart-topping hit.
Bass haggled over royalty rights to Rescue Me for years before reaching a settlement in the late 1980s, her daughter said.
Bass lived briefly in Europe before returning to St Louis in the early 1970s. She recorded occasionally, including a 1995 gospel album, No Ways Tired, which earned a Grammy nomination.
She is survived by four children.