Blues Legend Etta James Dies at 73

Celebrity News Jan. 20, 2012 AT 11:58AM
Blues Legend Etta James Dies at 73 Credit: House Of Fame LLC/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty

The music industry has lost one of its greats.

Blues legend Etta James lost her battle with leukemia early Friday, succumbing to her illness at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, Calif., her manager, Lupe De Leon, has confirmed.

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The singer's husband, Artis Mills, and sons were at her side at the time of her passing.

"This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world," De Leon said of James, who would have turned 74 Wednesday. "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."

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Best known for her 1961 cover of "At Last," James was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and was suffering from dementia prior to her death. She was admitted to a California hospital December 21 due to breathing difficulty, but 10 days later, her condition had improved and she was taken off a respirator, then able to breathe on her own.

The legendary crooner was a clear-cut favorite among today's current music stars, including Beyonce, who portrayed James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records.

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British pop phenom Adele counted James and Aretha Franklin among the best of the best.

"If you were to look up the word singer in the dictionary, you'd see their names," Adele has said.

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