Etta James passed away on Friday. It got me thinking about how I became a huge fan of someone whose career peaked when I was in grade school. You see it all began with my father’s cousin who owned a vending company, and he would give us 45’s that they emptied out of the jukeboxes. From an early age, I was familiar with the music of the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grass Roots, We Five, etc. But it was my entry into the restaurant business during my college years that I got my real education. It was there that I was exposed to Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Guy, Johnny Hartman, Peggy Lee, Chet Baker. Blossom Dearie, and Etta James by co-workers who were a tad older and had varied and terrific taste in music.
Getting back to Etta – I know her signature songs were “At Last” and “All I Could Do Was Cry”, which I loved, but I think two of her really great songs are “Love And Happiness” and Â as far as the standards, I’d say she did a pretty damn good job on “Come Rain Or Shine”.
Rest in peace Etta, you were amazing.