The star suffered complications from a heart attack, and her music won’t be forgotten.
St. Louis-born soul singer Fontella Bass has died at 72. She hit the top of the R&B charts with ‘Rescue Me’ in 1965, and died on Wednesday night at a St. Louis hospice after complications from a heart attack she suffered three weeks ago, her daughter, Neuka Mitchell, said.
According to the Daily Mail, Bass was also recovering from numerous strokes over the last 7 years:
‘She was an outgoing person,’ Mitchell said of her mother. ‘She had a very big personality. Any room she entered she just lit the room up, whether she was on stage or just going out to eat.’
Bass was born into a family with deep musical roots. Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers. Her younger brother, David Peaston, had a string of R&B hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Peaston died in February at age 54.
Bass’ began performing at a young age, singing in her church’s choir at age 6. She was surrounded by music, often traveling on national tours with her mother and her gospel group.
Her interest turned from gospel to R&B when she was a teenager and she began her professional career at the Showboat Club in north St. Louis at age 17. She eventually auditioned for Chess Records and landed a recording contract, first as a duet artist.
Her duet with Bobby McClure, Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing, reached No. 5 on the R&B charts and No. 33 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1965.
Rescue Me has been covered by many top artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Melissa Manchester and Pat Benatar. Franklin eventually sang a form of it too – as Deliver Me in a Pizza Hut TV ad in 1991.
Bass lived briefly in Europe before returning to St. Louis in the early 1970s, where she and husband Lester Bowie raised their family. She recorded occasionally, including a 1995 gospel album, No Ways Tired, that earned a Grammy nomination.
Bass was inducted into the St. Louis Hall of Fame in 2000.
Funeral arrangements for Bass were incomplete. She is survived by four children. Bowie died in 1999.
Her family and friends are in our thoughts.
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