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Singer Fontella Bass Dies In St. Louis
Posted by Ivetta Babadjanian on Dec 27, 2012 - 2:52:23 PM

ST. LOUIS, MO—Soul singer Fontella Bass, known for her hit R&B single "Rescue Me," died on Wednesday, December 26. She was 72.

Bass died Wednesday night at a St. Louis hospital due to complications from a heart attack she suffered from three weeks ago. Bass had suffered a series of strokes over the past seven years.
Fontella Bass.

Bass was born into a musical family as her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers. Her brother, David Peaston, had a number of R&B hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Peaston died in February at the age of 54.

Bass began singing in her church's choir at six but soon began to be interested with R&B and began her professional career at the Showboat Club in north St. Louis. She auditioned for Chess Records and was able to get a recording contract as a duet artist. Her duet with Bobby McLure, "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing," went up to number five on the R&B charts and number 33 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1965.

She co-wrote and recorded "Rescue Me" later that year which reached number 1 on the R&B charts and number four on the Billboard pop singles chart. She would end up disputing over royalty rights of the song for years before finally reaching a settlement in the late 1980s. She also sued American Airlines over the use of "Rescue Me" in a commercial before a settlement was made fir an undisclosed amount in 1993.

"Rescue Me" has been covered by many artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Melissa Manchester and Pat Benatar. The singer had a number of songs that hit the charts but they were not as successful as "Rescue Me."  Her singles included "Recovery," "I Can't Rest" and "You'll Never Know."

Bass lived in Europe for a brief period before returning to St. Louis in the early 1970s where she raised her family with husband Lester Bowie. She recorded occasionally, including her 1995 gospel album which received a Grammy nomination, "No Way's Tired."

Bass is survived by her four children. Her funeral arrangements have not been finalized.


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