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"Rescue Me" Singer Fontella Bass Dead at 72

Image courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images (via ABC News Radio)

Fontella Bass , the singer best known for the classic 1965 hit " Rescue Me ," has died. 

Jazz Times magazine reports Bass passed away December 26 from complications following a heart attack earlier this month. She was 72.  

Bass, the daughter of gospel singer Martha Bass , became a professional musician at age 17, playing piano for blues singer Little Milton .  Soon, she got a record deal of her own, and "Rescue Me" became her biggest hit, selling over a million copies. Though she co-wrote the song, it took years before she received proper credit and the royalties that came along with it.

"Rescue Me" has appeared in numerous movies and commercials over the years.  Among the artists who've covered it are Cher , Linda Ronstadt , Pat Benatar , Melissa Manchester and Diana Ross .

In addition to the R&B songs she recorded, Bass also collaborated with her husband, trumpeter Lester Bowie , on a variety of musical projects, and worked in the gospel, blues and jazz genres.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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