Death of Etta James sparks tributes from famous fans, including the Four Tops, Beyoncé, Nile Rodgers, Kings of Leon

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As the news spread that Etta James had passed away this morning, famous fans took to the Internet to pay tribute to the legendary soul singer. James had been suffering from terminal leukemia, kidney disease, hepatitis C and dementia. She was 73.

Nile Rodgers of Chic writes on Twitter: “When I was a kid, I remember walking all the way to Flash Record Shop in LA to buy a 45 rpm single by Etta James.” Abdul Duke Fakir of the Four Tops added on Facebook: “Your voice and passionate delivery will be missed.” Beyoncé, who played James in the movie “Cadillac Records,” posted this message on her Web site: “I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime.” Jazz drummer/vibraphonist Jason Marsalis: “A legendary blues singer with a great seasoned voice has passed away.”

Paul Epworth, producer for both Florence and the Machine and Adele, wrote: “RIP the wonderful Etta James.” ?uestlove of the Roots adds: “I will hold the torch high for The Roots name in your honor.” Kings Of Leon drummer Nathan Followill: “One of the greatest voices of all time. Thanks for the many romantic moments your music created.” And R&B star Kelly Rowland: “Classic. One of a kind. Pure soul. Etta James! Thank you for gracing us with your incredible talent and presence!”

James, a 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and six-time Grammy award winner, had been in and out of an intensive care unit in California since late December after experiencing difficulty breathing. Her death was confirmed by longtime friend and manager Lupe De Leon, according to CNN.

James’ landmark hits, which melded R&B, gospel and blues, included “Tell Mama,” “All I Could Do Was Cry” and, of course, “At Last.” The latter, originally written for the 1941 film musical “Orchestra Wives,” hit No. 2 on the R&B chart in 1962 and No. 47 on the Billboard pop charts. Though “At Last” was subsequently covered by scores of others — including Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli and Joni Mitchell — it remained until the end James’ signature moment.

Born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938, she battled heroin addiction throughout her career, but continued to tour until illness sidelined her a couple of years ago. An announcement of James’ formal retirement arrived just before the Oct. 25, 2011 release of her final studio album, The Dreamer: “I wish to thank all my fans who have shown me love and support over all these years,” James said. “I love you all.”

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