Etta James Dead at 73
The world of music is mourning the loss of a legend tonight. Jazz and blues great Etta James died early Friday morning after a long battle with leukemia. She was 73.
The soulful singer is best known for her sultry and lovely rendition of “At Last”, a long standing staple at many a wedding.
James, born Jamesette Hawkins, began her singing career in the 50’s with band leader Johnny Otis who had discovered her singing on San Francisco street corners with some of her girlfriends.
Back then Hank Ballard and the Midnighters hit song was “Work With Me Annie”. James and her friends wrote an answer to it called “Roll With Me, Henry”.
That’s what Otis heard and wanted to record, but the censors wouldn’t allow him to use the word “roll” (it was considered vulgar in the 50’s). A few months later a singer by the name of Georgia Gibbs would rename it “Dance With Me, Henry” and it was a #1 hit. (sidenote – my mother sang this song incessantly when I was a kid. very cool to know the history behind the tune that drove me nuts all those years)