Tag Archives: soul music

RIP Etta James

Nooooo! Etta James died today. Leukemia.

My friend Achterom introduced me to Etta James. Of course I knew who she was, like everyone else I knew she was the old broad who sings "At Last." A pretty enough song, with very little spunk. I wasn't too impressed with it. But he went to go see her live, and wouldn't shut up about it. There she was, a woman in her late sixties, making raunchy stage jokes and treating the microphone like a dildo. She was feisty and larger than life, like a queen of the Blues should be. Having (at last) upped my respect for the the Matriarch of R&B, I started playing her more rockabilly songs in my DJ sets. Somehow tracks like "In the Basement" seem to fit in just fine along with heavy dance numbers with thumpin' bass. Maybe that's why Avicii's chose to sample her song "Somebody Got A Hold On Me" for their huge 2011 dance hit, "Levels."

Etta remixed:

Etta James – 7 Day Fool (Whiskey Barons Edit)
Avicii – Levels (feat. Etta James)

Etta served straight:

Etta James – In the Basement (Part I)
Etta James – the Wallflower
Etta James – Tell Mama
Etta James – Spoonful (WMA file)
Etta James – I Just Wanna Make Love to you (WMA file)

Fun facts about Etta James:

  • It's rumored that she dated BB King when she was only 16, and that the song "Sweet Little 16" was written about her.
  • She is believed to be half-white, though no one can say with certainty as Etta never knew who her father was. She suspected it was the pool player, Rudolf "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone.
  • She was a heroin addict and one of the many celebrities who received treatment at the Betty Ford clinic.
  • After Beyonce inaccurately portrayed her in a movie, Etta James said she couldn't stand the singer and threatened that "she would get her ass whooped," though her children claim this was said because she had begun suffering from Alzheimer's.
  • James has received more than 30 awards throughout her life, including six Grammys and entry into The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, The Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.
  • Etta claimed to have written many of her songs, but didn't take the credit for tax reasons.

Def Jef feat Etta James – Dropping Rhymes On Drums (1989)

Etta James singing "I'd Rather Go Blind" with BB King

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