Wild Young Minds: At last

Saturday, January 21, 2012

At last

The world has lost another legend. A soul and jazz legend. A phenomenal legend. Etta James.
Her life was dominated by music and drugs. She was addicted to coke for a very long time, she was in prison for a little while and in a psychiatric hospital.
Etta James was an inspiration for great artists to come: Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Diana Ross and even The Rolling Stones.

Every time I see her photos, she seems like an amazing woman to me. Always smiling, always cheerful. And above all, a major artist. Her singles 'At Last', 'I'd rather go blind' and 'Tell mama' are legendary. But I think beneath those smiles, was a hurt woman, which you can also imagine if you listen to her lyrics.

Etta James was born in 1938 in Los Angeles. Her mama, whom was called 'The Mystery Lady' by Etta, was only fourteen when she delivered Etta. When Etta was fourteen, her mother took her to San Francisco, where she met Johnny Otis, the musician who helped Etta reach the top.

She was huge in the sixties, but, due to her drugs addiction, little was heard from Etta in the late seventies and early eighties. In 1987 she made her comeback, releasing her album 'The Seven Year Itch'.

In 2004, Rolling Stones Magazine listed her number 62 in the list of 100 greatest artists of all time. Beyoncé played her in the 2008 film 'Cadillac Records'. The film was based on the lifetime of the record label 'Chess Records', where Etta had a contract. Beyoncé also performed her version of 'At Last' during the inaugaration of Barack Obama in 2008. Etta wasn't happy with that at all, she said that 'she can't stand Beyoncé' and that she had to 'get her ass whipped'. Later she apologized for saying that, she meant it as a joke, but she was just hurt she was invited to sing, because she could've sung the song a lot better.

She also could've said all that, because she was suffering from dementia. She also suffered from leukemia. During the year 2011, things went downhill for Etta James and yesterday, it was announced she was gone.

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