Stars react to the passing of Etta James
January 20th, 2012
02:42 PM ET

Stars react to the passing of Etta James

Singing legend Etta James died Friday at the age of 73 from complications from leukemia.

James, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 - and also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C - died with her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons by her side, her longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon, told CNN.

Fans of the singer, whose 1961 release “At Last” has since become a favorite at weddings, continue to share their memories of James and her music:

“Etta James was a pioneer,” Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, told CNN. “Her ever-changing sound has influenced rock and roll, rhythm and blues, pop, soul and jazz artists, marking her place as one of the most important female artists of our time. From Janis Joplin to Joss Stone, an incredible number of performers owe their debts to her. There is no mistaking the voice of Etta James, and it will live forever.”

New mom Beyonce, who portrayed James in the film "Cadillac Records," told CNN, "This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime.

Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed."

Stars also reacted to the legend's passing on Twitter:

  • “CLASSIC. ONE OF A KIND. PURE SOUL. ETTA JAMES! Thank You for gracing us with your incredible talent & presence!” – Kelly Rowland
  • “Showing respect appreciation and love for all the wonderful music and joy #ettajames brought to the world...#ettajamesforever” –
  • “#EttaJames, I will be forever grateful for your voice and your soul. Rest in peace.” – Hayley Williams
  • “At last my love has come lonely days are over....RIP Etta James” – Kirstie Alley
  • “Thank you Etta James! Thank you Hear the magnificent MS James singing 'At Last'. RIP” – Mia Farrow
  • “rip tp Etta James. i will hold the torch high for The Roots name in your honor.” – Questlove
  • “At Last... Rest well Etta. You will be missed but, your music is eternal.” – Melissa Gilbert
  • “‘At Last’ is and always will be in my playlist for songs I can hear a million times and feel like it was new again. R.I.P. Etta James” – Harry Shum Jr.
  • “RIP Etta James. ‘At Last’ is one of my all time favorites and no one brought it like she did. Soulful voice.” – Ralph Macchio
  • “Rest In Peace Etta James. There is no adequate description for the magic you brought to the world of music, and the music of the world.” – Adam Shankman
  • “RIP Etta James. Your music inspired me and so many of my magic moments in my life had you singing all around me.” – Soleil Moon Frye
  • “RIP to the late and great Etta James. Your voice and your fight inspired me and many. I love that through recordings, people can live forever” – Pink
  • “Rest in peace to one of the world's most influential singers Etta James, you will be missed.” – Mariah Carey

Was “At Last” your wedding song? Or was it otherwise special to you and your sweetheart? Help us pay tribute to James by sharing why the song means so much to you on iReport.

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Do water softeners work?

    Usually I don't learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very great article.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Glenn Leahey

    If you never had a chance to see ETTA live in concert, you missed something VERY special. Check the various music sites for LIVE videos of songs like "SUGAR ON THE FLOOR", a song written by Kiki Dee that Etta performed regularly for over 30 years. SHe won Grammy's for R and B, blues and for jazz//BLUE GARDENIA: the songs of Billie Holiday. She TRIUMPHED over heroin addiction and a tumultuous childhood. I only found out through reading her obituaries that she had written an autobiography RAGE TO SURVICE @1995. It is brutally honest. Rest in Peace.

    February 5, 2012 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jonny

    Would somebody please tell CNN to stop torturing us with Christina Aguilera's detestable rendition of "At Last". She single-handedly managed to destroy the reverence of the funeral.

    January 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Diane

    Etta will always be with us in song..My mother loves her songs, I grew up listing to her songs, I cried today listing to AT LAST. R,I.P.Etta. For anyone who is in love or have ever been in love this is your song

    January 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bluescat48

    One of my favorite Female singers since the 50s. She will be missed.

    January 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lima

    Her voice make me happy wen am sad she will be miss rip,etta.

    January 23, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. mr.right

    may she be at peace away from all the ghettoness..amen as for the gay hobo geta job loser

    January 23, 2012 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. mr.right

    who gives a hoot she was black.even the black gay hobo in here don't give a crap..that sais it all bieng black sucks salty balls

    January 23, 2012 at 4:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. ma & pa

    Tears from our eyes. Comfort to her family's hearts. She spoke what she believed and faith takes care of the rest.

    January 23, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • GLenn Leahey

      True. Her autobiography RAGE TO SURVIVE, much like her music and songwriting is BRUTALLY honest. Rest in Peace.

      February 5, 2012 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Irene Allen

    R.I.P. Etta James u lived a long life & so many ppl luved u! u will b truly missed! fromthefort;)

    January 23, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. sabinabarnes

    I aint no child. I be a teenie bopper and I iz gonna bop you right in da keister. Bend over and get ready for my super-sized sausage, my lil pumpkin! You can take da whole thang. Polish it up for me once I dumped my salty load!! Thx

    January 23, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. ma & pa

    Baby girl...You lived through to a place in life where you were valued and loved, as you deserved. You'll continue, in beauty and love. You were a good light among us.

    January 23, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. sabinabarnes

    Jjy79, please dont ever compare etta james to any artist of this generation.she was a legend in her Time, By the way children shouldnt be in grown folks ,conversation.

    January 23, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. CNN Moderator

    These comments are rude and uncalled for on this sensitive article. These trolls need to get a life. You will be banned from all future CNN blogs. Bustin out with niggs, slaves and jig-a-boo is just lame. You should be ashamed!!! Suk my big ol.....

    January 23, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. leroy buck jones

    I once tapped dat bootay when we wuz young and hornay! Etta and I slammed some MD 20/20 and got bizzy in da back of my Lincoln Continental. Leroy busted out his big ol donger and showed her sum crazy new trix! I will always member dem days when backseat luvin was da bomb! Peace be with you, child. I be joinin u soon!!

    January 23, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  16. Punky Brewster

    Dat Etta gave me hope and inspired me to do absolutely nothing after my show was cancelled. I became a homeless bum living off the streets of Sunset, forced to sell my plump lil body...the moral of this story...Etta's tunes made me into a complete loser!! See ya.

    January 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  17. lebron

    That jig-a-boo decided to take her talents elsewhere...straightto HE doubleL. She be a ho and she be a pig. I loved that plump lil crazy nig! Now I know this seems a bit harsh, but all us bros can call it a farce! See ya biatchy!!

    January 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  18. tyler bender

    I iz a racist but I be gay. I just want you to know I luv to play....the skin flute is my fav lil thang, my buddy's pooper I will bang. I am a fudge packer and that be coo...I just wanna mop up my buddies spoo!!

    January 22, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Capt. Obvious

    Punky Brewster was called upon for HER thoughts concerning the Etta James passing? CNN again has no clue.

    January 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  20. carole C

    I wasnt even alive when Etta was doing her thing but the first time i heard at last i was in love and every thing else i'd rather go blind i love it i love her ma
    y she rest in peace

    January 22, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  21. tyler bender

    I hate him soooo bad im glad hes dead i always wanted him dead. why did he have to be born anyway

    January 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  22. tracie

    Nobody cares about this lady. This article did not even get many comments. My husband sat on my face tonight.

    January 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • warmcauldron

      You should be ashamed of yourself. Try a little respect. Who raised you, anyway? Wolves? I'll bet your parents are just so proud...

      January 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Kathy Stumm-Bogale Calgary

    Loved the music of Etta James! Heartfelt condolensces to her family!

    January 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Samuel Getaneh Bogale Calgary Alberta

    Etta James was an incredible talented woman! What a loss – my prayers go out to her family!

    January 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  25. James Lee


    January 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  26. mia in California

    I agree with Big Al of KC. Etta James is suffering no more, she is now in the arms of the Creator. Her music and spirit will live on.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  27. music


    January 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Lebron

    Mrs james decided to take her talents elsewhere

    January 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Cross

    Mrs Etta James was God's gift to us and we were blessed with her for a long time and when God saw her suffering he took her home. Thank you for your Angel ,bless her family and fans. RIP

    January 22, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |

    WOW! Don't LET IT RIP

    January 22, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  31. cecile

    "I'd rather go blind than to see you walk away..." Be at peace on your new journey.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  32. felicia

    At last was a beautiful song it really touch my soul you will be greatly missed to all

    January 22, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  33. elton

    Oooow weee dont do that

    January 22, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  34. leroy buck jones

    she finelly done dieds?!!!! ooooo weeee. lord hav mercy. she hungs in dare like a trooper. good god almighty.

    January 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Maribel Aguilar

    Etta James was truly one of my favorites. Now she can sing all the way up in heaven.May she rest in peace.

    January 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  36. jeremy k jones

    Etta James was a good singer Deep down from her Heart with a powerful voice of all time she will be Missed at the same time her Music will always live on forever, At Last she's in Gods hands.

    January 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  37. juma

    No comment

    January 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  38. M.T.

    My husband who passed away recently loved your style and sweet voice. May my husband hear your voice, AT Last !

    January 21, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  39. CyberClickRadio

    Loved those jams "Tell Mama" and "It Must Be Love" - R.I.P. Sista' Etta.

    January 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  40. hyacinth

    RIP Ms. E. James; sing to my mom, dad, and grand dad up there. I remember as a little girl hearing your songs! God Bless your family as they go through this transition

    January 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  41. MalikTous

    This is why I reject 'copy protection' scams though I'll honour a 'copyright' under Fair Use rules. Media like her music should be immortal! Back up your music!

    January 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  42. CJ

    OK – it was bad enough that Beyonce sang "At Last" at Obama's inauguration instead of Ms. Etta James. Now, at Etta's death, the articles seem to be more about Beyonce. Come on, give this one-of-a-kind talent the credit and thankfulness for her voice that she deserves. Let's talk about the true talent, Etta James. Beyonce mimics Ettta, and does not surpass her anywhere but in media coverage.

    January 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Gloria

    What a pity,etta may ur gentle soul rest in d bossom of the lord Amen.

    January 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  44. queenlyd

    I also remember first hearing u in the 60's and would wonder why u sang the blues so well until I saw the movie "Cadillac Records".After I began to dig up more info about u and ur musical career.ur songs and early recordings.I was amazed about so much that I had missed.If u could have lived just a little bit longer would we have given u the props that u so richly deserve instead of saying how greatly we appreciated u know that ur gone? I know that u would have agreed with my statement.I will miss you my dear.lbj

    January 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Charline Bolden

    I never seen you,I never talk 2 you,yet I have know you all my life&I love you Miss Etta James: RIP,,

    January 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Leticia

    I have grown to love Etta James and have felt incredibly sad to hear of her passing. My sister and I saw her in the late nineties at the Strand in Redondo Beach on New Years Eve, but my love for her and her passion for singing and performing had not yet begun. She was wild, feisty and I thought "over-the-top" with her incredibly forward antics. However, when she sang "At Last", of course I was assuredly in awe. Many years passed, my music career steered me towards learning her songs and peeking into her life through lyrics and stories. I feel now as though someone has taken a dear friend from me. I have nothing but deep respect and a feeling of love loss knowing that she has left us. I feel as though she is with me still when I hear her voice. I say "Thank you, Etta, you have been such a lovely blessing in my life." LL

    January 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  47. tenneill

    Thank you for the music that inspired so many generations of singers and so many other people whose name you never knew but was honored to love you from afar. Long live Etta James!

    January 21, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  48. Ggordon

    Sugar on the floor

    January 21, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  49. cynthia

    Rest in peace Etta James your music will live in our hearts.May God give your family the strength while they cope with such a big lost.R.I.P

    January 21, 2012 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
  50. dee

    You will be missed.RIP

    January 21, 2012 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
  51. dee

    You will be miss.RIP

    January 21, 2012 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
  52. Leticia

    I have grown to love Etta James and have felt incredibly sad to hear of her passing. My sister and I saw her in the late nineties at the Strand in Redondo Beach on New Years Eve, but my love for her and her passion for singing and performing had not yet begun. She was wild, feisty and I thought "over-the-top" with her incredibly forward antics. However, when she sang "At Last", of course I was assuredly in awe. Many years passed, my music career steered me towards learning her songs and peeking into her life through lyrics and stories. I feel now as though someone has taken a dear friend from me. I have nothing but deep respect and love loss knowing that she has left us. I feel as though she is with me still when I hear her voice. I say "Thank you, Etta, you have been such a lovely blessing in my life." LL

    January 21, 2012 at 4:19 am | Report abuse |
  53. shaun catron


    January 21, 2012 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  54. Jerry

    "At Last" is th most popular song at Julius Bar in the Village, NYC. Her songs will live on. Her cd's are on their jukebox. Jerry

    January 21, 2012 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  55. Harry

    Unlike Christina Ugliera, Etta would never forget words to the anthem at a Super Bowl

    January 21, 2012 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
  56. kathy

    The public loves those who die but rarely loves those who live. Miss you Etta!

    January 21, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  57. Felita

    You Were Truly Magnificent Rip Etta

    January 21, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  58. big Al of KC

    Why do we call this SAD? She will no longer suffer in a physical state and she gets to see our Maker! How awesome is that? She left her mark as one of a kind artist! A true artist!

    January 21, 2012 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  59. james phillips

    She will missed greatly by me + all her fans from the 60's scene God bless her always.She is in Heaven still singing 4ever 2 all the angels + saints + the hosts in heavens amen.RIP

    January 21, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  60. Katana59

    I was just a lilttle kid in the early 60's and my parents where playing her record song AT LAST... super nice Wonderful warm voice she had....the only voice who reminds me Etta... was the late Amy Winehouse...

    January 21, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  61. warren

    Etta james part of legacy of black histroy. A musical icon.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  62. reggie

    This is the time that try mens soul increase your faith in jesus and he can comfront you the relationship between mrs. James and god was pernosal but god provides peace for all by only speaking it that is why he is the great almighty god.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  63. darlene van

    used to see ya grocery shopping and at the salon getting our nails done by debbie and you were always so nice to everybody. So down to earth and real. You gave my granddaughter an autogragph in the store and then i introduced her to the blues. Thank you, you truly wonderful lady. Now smile with the angels tonight. A loving fan.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  64. brandi420

    Ms. Etta James Ms. Queen of Soul. You will be missed. Your voice, power, inspiration and love will live on forever. Thank you for my favorite song AT LAST......

    January 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  65. elijah

    R.I.P. you left a legacy of music,,,,,,beside ..AT LAST,,,,,TELL MAMA ,,,,,my favorite dance tune was,,,PUSHOVER....never be forgotten

    January 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  66. chris

    A short night of music in boulder i will never forget. Etta your warm hug and will never be forgoten

    January 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Kt

    At Last – R.I.P. Ms. Etta James. Since ur up there can u sing it for my mom (who is up there too) it's her favorite.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Peace

    I was married for 38 years. I remembered her! R.I.P.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  69. J

    You don't always need good looks to get by in life.l It's also either having brains and/or talent. We're all pretty useful for something in this lifetime. What kind of influences did or do you have!?! People like you just need to get out more, and be cultrued. No wonder why your not so happy, or at peace with yourself..

    January 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  70. J

    If you didn't care so much about this article, then why read it in the first place..

    January 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  71. rachael


    January 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Beverly

    Etta, you will be missed. There is a place for you in heaven with a stage and an Etta James mic, accompanied by an orchestra of angels. Your beautiful voice will live on. Thanks for sharing your God given gift with the world.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Francine Briones

    Am shock jst found out! Etta J...i thk u 4 gvg me smthg to hear n rembr*trust n me* means alot to me has meang n truth ..Rest n Peace

    January 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  74. amac

    what a wonderful gift we have all lost...The sounds of heaven are more beautiful now for sure!!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Name*Andre Baws Hawg

    A musical giantess has left us. Yet she's gone on to sing for those who went before her. To hear hr story listen to "My Diary".
    Sing on Etta, sing on.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |

    Etta James you will be missed But your music will live on !

    January 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  77. life's purpose?

    Yes we were graced with the honor of ms etta james sharing her soul her heart her sounds of music at last the pain u had begin to suffer lost it's evil grip on u. R.I.P. Etta you'll be forever missed and thank you so much,mwah

    January 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Playjojo of the best voices to date, who had a long life well spent. Thanks to her generous spirit, she has made millions of people happy, relaxed, and or amorous, not an easy thing to do:)

    January 20, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Melanie

    Darling Etta, every time I would hear your voice I got chills. You had such strong and beautiful talent. Now, may you sing with the angels in heaven where you belong. You will be greatly missed.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  80. antoinette grissom

    to one of best singers ever lived R.I.P. God bless

    January 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Debra

    Great lady she will be forever rememberd for her grand singing long live Etta James forever love

    January 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Sokman

    Etta & Koko are two of my favorite classic ladies. She!ll be missed, but forever remembered

    January 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  83. latty

    R.I.P. Etta james, at last your in the arms of Jesus, you will be miss by many, but your voice will live on forever,

    January 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  84. pagirlinks

    RIP Etta. Your music will be listened to and enjoyed by many forever. To Ms. James' family my deepest condolences.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Heidi Bell

    What a classic "At Last" is and always will be! R.I.P. Etta

    January 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Lashunda Darden

    R.I.P to A GREAT INFLUENTIAL WOMAN.... Mrs. Etta James!

    January 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Adara


    January 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  88. John

    Tracie, you made the same comment regarding Springsteen, what are you 10 ? Be carefull, your mommie may find out that your wasting time on the internet instead of doing your homework. Jeesh, grow up, No class whatsoever

    January 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  89. trix are for kids


    Wonderful talent and voice.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  90. JJY79

    One of the most amazing voices I have ever heard. At Last opened my eyes to this wonderful singer and it was all downhill from there. Etta James will be greatly missed, but her music will live on for generations.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scor48

      RIP. When I heard "At Last" for the first time the song was so beautiful tears came to my eyes. You are one of the greatest singers I have ever heard.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  91. ?

    RIP Etta. You were no Lady Gaga but you'll still be missed.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debby

      Are you crazy. Comparing Lady GaGa to Etta. No comparison. RIP Etta.

      January 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Thank God she wasn't! RIP, Etta.

      January 23, 2012 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
    • warmcauldron

      Is this some kind of joke? What are you 12? I don't see how anyone can put Lady Gaga in the same class with Etta James, even as a joke. It's just disrespectful. You need to listen to some of her music, before you start saying things you don't have a clue about. Try listening to 'Sugar on the Floor'. It'll tear your heart out. She was my favorite female singer, and I will miss the opportunity of hearing something new from her, every day. I will still listen to my C.D.'s and remember her, though. You should have seen her on film, vivacious is the only way to say it in a 'clean' way! Love you Etta!

      January 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  92. JJY79

    That's rather rude and immature.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  93. ?

    R.I.P. You will be missed by many.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Leo

    That is truly sad. One of the most memorable and legendary voices of our times.

    January 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |

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