Lifestyle & Belief

Soul-singer Fontella Bass dies at age 72 (VIDEO)


Fontella Bass performing at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation's 12th annual Pioneer Awards at the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York City on November 8, 2001.


Gabe Palacio

Soul legend Fontella Bass has passed away in St Louis after suffering a heart attack, ending a career that began with a bang with 1965's "Rescue Me."

Reuters reports the singer had been afflicted with strokes in recent years, and finally passed away on Wednesday in hospice care, according to her daughter.

The pretty and full-voiced Bass first hit the big-time in 1965, dueting with singer Bobby McClure on tracks including "You'll Miss Me (When I'm Gone)" and "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing." 

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But "Rescue Me" elevated Bass—who hailed from a musical family—to super stardom, dominating the 65' charts and creating a timeless R&B classic, cementing her in the memory of fans of that era of music.

"It held a special place in her heart," said daughter Neuka Mitchells to Reuters of "Rescue Me."

"She sang it every time she performed."

The record became the first million-seller hit for Chess Records since Chuck Berry hit the scene a decade before, says the Chicago Sun-Times.

However, Bass was forced to fight hard for full royalty rights to "Rescue Me," which she co-wrote—a right she only gained 20 years after the track's initial release, says the BBC. The song was recorded by numerous other luminaries, including Aretha Franklin, Cher, and Linda Ronstadt.

After the 1965 hit, Bass released the well-received 1972 album "Free," but never quite achieved the lofty success of her one-hit-wonder.

Known for her effusive personality and her love of soul food, Bass will be remembered by her four children. Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.