Fontella Bass, a St. Louis-born soul singer who hit the top of the R&B charts with “Rescue Me” in 1965, has died.
The singer’s daughter, Neuka Mitchell, says Bass died at a St. Louis hospice Wednesday night of complications from a heart attack suffered three weeks ago. She was 72. Bass had also suffered several strokes since 2005.
Bass was born into a family with deep musical roots. Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers. Her younger brother, David Peaston, had a string of R&B hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Peaston died in February at age 54.
“Rescue Me” went to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. (The latter chart was named Top Selling Rhythm & Blues Singles when it went to No. 1.)
Bass had two other top 40 hits on the Hot 100: “Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing” with Bobby McClure (No. 33) and “Recovery” (No. 37). On the R&B chart, Bass logged two more top 20 hits with “Don’t Mess” (No. 5) and “Recovery” (No. 13).
Her surviving family includes four children. Her husband, jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie, died in 1999. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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