Etta James has died aged 73, at a hospital in Riverside, California.
She was the powerhouse vocalist behind the original version of the much-covered At Last, and had hits with blues and R&B songs from her teens onwards. She was confirmed dead today by her longtime friend and manager Lupe De Leon.
The six time Grammy-Award winner was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C.
The I'd Rather Go Blind singer, once considered one of the most overlooked blues and R&B musicians in American music history, was admired by contemporary artists such as Adele, who once named her as one of her favourite singers.
"If you were to look up the word singer in the dictionary, you'd see her name," Adele said in an interview.
Christina Aguilera and Amy Winehouse also credited her with influencing their music and in 2009 Beyonce sang At Last at one of President Barack Obama's inaugural balls.
Her 18-year tenure at Chicago's Chess Records — partly documented in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, in which Beyonce famously played the singer — led to James' most successful period commercially. However, it also coincided with her increasingly heavy use of heroin and alcohol.
James' enduring hits, including the 1963 record Tell Mama, continue to receive much airtime to this day.
SLIDESHOW: Etta James' life in pictures...
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