Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Chess Years in the 70s, 80s and Onward

In 1967, Etta was ready to release her next hit single. The song was called "Tell Mama" and it became a Top Ten hit on the R&B charts that year. The song showed James' comeback, after a dry period of no hits for almost four years. The song made James a household name once more. The follow-up also proved to be just as successful as "Tell Mama" was for her. The song was called "Security" and proved that James had staying power on the charts agin. After that, less success came, but James was still on the charts regularly. Despite the death of Leonard Chess, Etta James stayed with the Chess label into 1975. Towards the end of the Chess years though, James went into more Rock-based songs. Her career however did not stop once the Chess years came to an end. Etta recorded for numerous other labels and continued to release albums, like 1978's Deep In the Night by Atlantic Records.

Etta James on the cover of her At Last! album. The album was released in 1961 and it featured her signature song, "At Last".Despite a dry period during the early to mid 80s, Etta got back on track and began to record music again. Her 1988 album Seven Year Itch proved this comeback capability. The album showed more James' Soul side. Into the 1990s, she continued to record and perform. Her albums widely varied in styles and genres of music. Her 1992 album The Right Time was another Soul album that was produced by Elektra Records. The album was upbeat as well. She began to record more Jazz music as well, which became the subject for many of her 1990s albums. In 1998 she released a Christmas album called An Etta James Christmas. To a younger generation, Etta is known for the Muddy Waters song "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", used in television commercials for Coca-Cola and for John Smith's bitter. The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Foghat have also recorded the song. Etta's version was a surprise Top 10 UK hit in 1995. Drug-related and romantic problems interfered with her career, but James managed to maintain a career throughout the latter half of the 20th century.[4] Later in life, James struggled with obesity. She reached more than 400 pounds, experienced mobility and knee problems, and often needed a wheelchair. In 2003, James underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost over 200 pounds.[5] James was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.[6] She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. Her pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2003 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her #62 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[7] She is still touring in 2006. A new album was also released in 2006 called All the Way, which was released by RCA Records.


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