Etta James, the feisty rhythm and blues singer whose raw, passionate vocals anchored many hits and made the yearning ballad 'At Last' an enduring anthem for weddings, commercials and even US President Barack Obama, died yesterday. She was 73.
Ms James had been suffering from dementia and kidney problems, and was battling leukemia. In December 2011, her physician announced that her leukemia was terminal, and asked for prayers for the singer.
During her illness, her husband Artis Mills and her two sons fought bitterly over control of her $1m (€774,000) estate, though a deal was later struck keeping Mr Mills as the conservator and capping the singer's expenses at $350,000 (€270,000).
Ms James died at Riverside Community Hospital, with her husband and sons at her side, her manager, Lupe De Leon, said.
"It's a tremendous loss for her fans around the world," he said. "She'll be missed. A great American singer. Her music defied category."
"Etta James was a pioneer. Her ever-changing sound has influenced rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues, pop, soul and jazz artists, marking her place as one of the most important female artists of our time," said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame president and CEO Terry Stewart.