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R.I.P. Etta James

Posted by James Reed  January 20, 2012 11:51 AM

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Etta James, the force of nature whose version of "At Last" became one of the most iconic songs of the 20th century, has left us. According to her longtime manager, the powerhouse singer died today from complications brought on by leukemia. She was 73.

James had also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C, but she was a fighter till the end. Her last performance in Boston was at the House of Blues in May 2009, which Sarah Rodman reviewed.

James's reach was vast, influencing everyone from Dusty Springfield and Bonnie Raitt all the way up to Adele, Christina Aguilera, and Beyoncé (who portrayed James in the 2008 film "Cadillac Records").

More to come. In the meantime, watch this live performance of "I'd Rather Go Blind," featuring a cowering Dr. John, and dare to tell me the world hasn't lost one of its most heart-stopping performers. This levels me every time.

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The latest news, commentary, and reviews on music in Boston and beyond.

Contributors

Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.

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