"Rescue Me" singer Fontella Bass dies at age 72

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    Fontella Bass, the big-voiced singer who had an international hit with the soul music classic, "Rescue Me," has died at age 72, four weeks after suffering a heart attack. Bass's rousing version of "Rescue Me" became one of the 60s most recognizable hits, and a song that was later covered -- but never equalled - by dozens of major artists.

    Fontella Bass, the big-voiced singer who had an international hit with the soul music classic, "Rescue Me," has died at age 72, four weeks after suffering a heart attack. Bass's rousing version of "Rescue Me" became one of the 60s most recognizable hits, and a song that was later covered -- but never equalled - by dozens of major artists.

    Bass grew up in St. Louis, the daughter of Gospel singer Martha Bass. After years of singing in her hometown church and playing piano in clubs in St. Louis, Fontella went on to become a popular background singer for other R&B artists before breaking out on her own with the 1962 hit "I Don't Hurt Anymore." Two years later she landed in the top 10 with her Chess Records single "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing." But it was 1965's "Rescue Me," in which her voice resembled rising star Aretha Franklin, that secured Bass's legacy in the R&B world and created for her a signature hit that is still being played nearly a half century later. She continued to record with less success over the next several years before temporarily stopping her singing career to raise a family in St. Louis.

    By the mid-1990's Bass returned to recording, but almost exclusively as a Gospel artist. She recorded a Gospel album with her brother, noted R&B singer David Peaston (who died in February 2012). She also began performing live again in 2000, though health problems plagued her following a stroke in 2005.

    Though Fontella Bass's time on top of the music world was relatively short, she has carved for herself a permanent place in soul music history for her brilliant performances in the 60s and one of the greatest songs of that era. She will be missed.

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