Friday, May 24, 2024

Etta James, 73, At Last: May She Rest in Peace


Etta James has finally passed away after some real health struggles. She was 73. “At Last” is her signature song, but “Tell Mama” is really just as good if not better. Etta had a hard early life, like most R&B singers. She never made a lot of money. Because there’s no performance rights royalty, her songs–“At Last” especially– have just been played and played for free a zillion times all over the galaxy. This means she had to tour and tour and tour, find gigs, well beyond the time any adult should have to keep getting on a bus in the middle of the night and traversing the countryside. She joins dozens and dozens of R&B giants whom we all mourn when they die, but who were not properly rewarded during their lives. We only lost Johnny Otis the other day. “At Last” will just go on and on into infinity–you’re hearing it now somewhere, no doubt. So Etta, like her compatriots, must have been a saint to give the world entertainment and love for free.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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