The name may not sound familiar, but you’ve no doubt heard her song — “Rescue Me” pops up all the time in Rom-Coms.
R&B singer, Fontella Bass, who wrote and performed 1965’s hit “Rescue Me” died on Wednesday, Dec. 26, from complications brought on by a heart attack. The singer’s daughter, Neuka Mitchell, said her mother had suffered multiple strokes during the past seven years.
Among her accomplishments, Bass was at the forefront of fighting for royalty rights and artistic freedom long before The Beatles or Nirvana and Courtney Love began to clash. It took until the mid-1980s, but Bass finally earned an agreement with record execs over the royalty rights for “Rescue Me.” She co-wrote the song, which hit No. 1 on the R&B charts almost immediately. It even reached the fourth position on Billboard‘s pop singles chart.
Bass co-wrote many tracks throughout her life and saw minor success with a few other solo singles. In 1995, she recorded a gospel record titled No Ways Tired. The effort brought about her first Grammy nomination.
Born in St. Louis, Bass was the daughter of gospel singer, Martha Bass, and showed her musical genius at a very young age. At just 5 years old, Fontella began playing piano for her grandmother when she sang at funerals. By age 9, Bass was on tour and accompanying her mother on stage.
Despite growing up singing gospel, Bass was drawn to all kinds of music and at age 17, she began her shift toward the R&B genre. A few years after graduating from high school, she auditioned for Chess Records as a duet artist alongside her partner Bobby McClure. Along with her solo career, Bass also reached the fifth spot on the R&B charts with “Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing,” a duet with Bobby McClure.
Fontella Bass, born in 1940, was 72 years old when she died. She leaves behind her children, Neuka, Ju’Lene, Larry and Bahnamous, as well as 10 grandchildren.