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OTRC: Fontella Bass, 'Rescue Me' singer, dies at 72 of complications from a heart attack

Fontella Bass a St. Louis-born singer who topped the charts with the song "Rescue Me" in 1965, died at the age of 72 on Wednesday, December 26.

The singer died of complications from a heart attack she suffered three weeks ago, her daughter Neuka Mitchell told The Associated Press. Bass died in a hospice in St. Louis and the singer had suffered a series of strokes over the past seven years.

"She was an outgoing person," Mitchell told the wire service about her mother. "She had a very big personality. Any room she entered she just lit the room up, whether she was on stage or just going out to eat."

Bass was the daughter of a gospel singer named Martha Bass. Her brother, David Peaston, was also a successful singer and had a few hit songs in the 1980s and 1990s. He died in February at 54.

The singer began her professional career at age 17 and was later signed to Chess Records as a duet artist. Her duet with Bobby McClure, "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing," reached No. 5 on the R&B charts and No. 33 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1965.

She co-wrote and recorded "Rescue Me," reaching No. 1 on the R&B charts and No. 4 on the Billboard pop singles chart. Bass's voice bore a striking resemblance to Aretha Franklin, who is often misidentified as the singer of that chart-topping hit.

"Rescue Me" has been covered by artists like Linda Ronstadt, Pat Benatar and Diana Ross.

Bass lived briefly in Europe before returning to St. Louis in the early 1970s, where she and husband Lester Bowie raised their family. She recorded occasionally, including a 1995 gospel album, "No Ways Tired," that earned a Grammy nomination. She was inducted into the St. Louis Hall of Fame in 2000.

She is survived by four children. Her husband, Bowie died in 1999.


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