Singer Etta James, Dead at 73, Should Be Remembered as a Fighter (VIDEO)

etta jamesA music legend has passed. Soul and R&B singer Etta James, a four-time Grammy winner best known for her 1961 timeless love song, "At Last," has died after a long battle with leukemia. She was only 73, which by today's standards seems sadly, relatively young.

But James had been struggling with health concerns for quite some time, canceling concerts in January 2010 to enter the hospital with a blood infection. She also suffered from other ailments, including Alzheimer's disease, urinary tract infections, and sepsis.

Although her last years sound like extremely difficult ones, we have to remember we're talking about a woman here who was a serious fighter -- and should go down in history as one!

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James faced a heroin addiction for a good part of her life, but around her 50th birthday, she says she "took back her life," and in 2006, she even had a gastric-bypass surgery, shedding 235 of her 400 pounds.

In addition to her personal triumphs, she had a lion's share of professional wins. Most of us would agree: "At Last" has to be one of the most romantic, beautiful songs of the 20th century. One that the President and Mrs. Obama danced to the night of his Inauguration, one that has withstood the test of time by being a go-to at weddings and in films. Also, who could forget her hit "Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry)" in Back to the Future? And James herself was also immortalized in films -- having been portrayed by Beyonce in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records, and countless artists -- from Bonnie Raitt to Christina Aguilera -- cite her as an influence.

As James' friend of more than 30 years and manager Lupe De Leon said, "She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category." While it feels like it was too soon for her to be taken from us, that originality will ensure her music and legend live on. RIP Etta James.

Here she is in 1993, performing "At Last" at her induction to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame ...

 

Image via Rick Diamond/Getty

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