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’At Last’ Etta James Succumbs To Complications From Leukemia

Originally Posted: January 20, 2012

Legendary vocalist Etta James dies at 73. (Courtesy Photo: WHBPAC)

Southampton - Legendary vocalist, Etta James, died Thursday, January 19, 2012, in Riverside, California, at the age of 73. The cause of death was complications from leukemia, according to her long time manager, Lupe De Leon.

Born as Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, to a 14-year-old, unwed mother, listeners could hear her life experiences in her music, from blues to jazz - to soul to pop. Discovered in her teens by R&B band leader Johnny Otis, she recorded her first hit "Roll With Me Henry" in 1955, which reached #2 on the R&B charts.

The winner of four Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards, James was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame both in 1999 and 2008, and perhaps best known for her incomparable 1961 chart-topping release "At Last."

In recent years, James performed in the Hamptons in 2009, and was portrayed by Beyonce in the 2008 film "Cadillac Records" - a film following those artists who recorded with Chess Records. James also performed during President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's first dance at the Neighborhood Ball.

James is survived by her husband of 42 years, Artis Mills; two sons, Donto and Sametto James; and four grandchildren.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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