Etta James died on Friday (January 20) at the age of 73 after a lengthy battle with leukemia. The legendary blues songstress will be remembered at a public viewing in Inglewood CA, on Friday, January 27 and her private funeral will be held the following day, on Saturday, January 28 in Gardena, CA. Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy at James’ funeral service and tribute performances will be announced before the date arrives.
The public viewing will be held from 5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. at the Inglewood Cemetery at 3801 West Manchester Blvd in Inglewood, CA. The private funeral will run from 10 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Greater Bethany Community Church City of Refuge in Gardena, CA. James’ family has requested donations be sent to The Rhythm & Blues Foundation.
Best known for hits like “At Last,” “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “Tell Mama,” “Something’s Got a Hold of Me” and “Good Rockin’ Daddy,” James learned to sing in church, and first recorded professionally as a member of the all-girl doo-wop group the Peaches, with whom she’d score a#1 hit (“The Wallflower,” an answer to Hank Ballard’s “Work with me, Annie”). Soon after that song’s success, James left the group and toured with the likes of Little Richard and Johnny “Guitar” Watson. She’d subsequently sign with Chicago’s Chess Records in 1960, where her powerful contralto was featured on a string of crossover classics that spanned R&B, soul, gospel, blues and even rock. It was during that time that she also began a battle with heroin addiction, one that would lead to stints in rehabilitation facilities and stall her career’s momentum.
James would continue to record for Chess until 1978, then, after a stint opening for the Rolling Stones, she’d spend the next decade largely adrift, before returning with her comeback album, 1989’s Seven Year Itch, which reunited her with producer Jerry Wexler and began a period that saw her finally receive the acclaim she’d long deserved. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and, the following year, won her first-ever Grammy award. In subsequent years, she’d also be enshrined in both the Blues and Rockabilly Halls, earn a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys and continue to record a string of well-received blues and jazz albums.