Blues and jazz singer Etta James died early this morning at Southern California’s Riverside Community Hospital from complications of leukemia. She was 73. In 2009, James had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
James’ first album, “At Last!,” was released in 1961. She won her first of six Grammys 33 years later, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for the tribute album “Mystery Lady (Songs of Billie Holiday)". Despite battling heroin addiction in the ’60s and ’70s – in addition to other substance-abuse issues in later years – James released 27 albums during a career that lasted close to half a century.
On the IMDb, James has only two credited film appearances: cameos in Nick Castle’s Tap (1989), starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr, and Michael Schultz’s musical Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978). The latter film was a monumental flop despite the presence of the then-popular Bee Gees, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and Peter Frampton, in addition to an eclectic cast that included Steve Martin, George Burns, Donald Pleasence, and Frankie Howerd.
James’ other “acting” film connection was via Beyoncé Knowles, who played the singer in Darnell Martin’s Cadillac Records.