Fontella Bass, singer of the hit 1965 classic “Rescue Me, died yesterday (Dec. 27) from complications brought on by a heart attack. Bass’ daughter Neuka Mitchell said her mother had been sick from the effects of multiple strokes over the past seven years.
Born in St. Louis in 1940, Bass was the daughter of gospel singer Martha Bass, and often traveled on her mother’s tours as a child. She shifted from Gospel to R&B at age 17, when she auditioned for the famed Chess Records as a duet artist. Her and duet partner Bobby McClure’s” hit Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing,” reached No. 5 on the R&B charts. Soon after, she co-wrote recorded “Rescue Me,” which went to No. 1 on the R&B charts and No. 4 on the Billboard pop singles chart.
She constantly fought for artistic freedom and royalty rights for “Rescue Me”, reaching a settlement in the late 1980s. Having a few modest singles after that, Bass recorded a gospel album in 1995 “No Ways Tired,” an effort which earned a Grammy nomination.
Fontella Bass was 72.