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Fontella Bass obit

FONTELLA BASS, whose name (and what an awesome name it is) will forever be associated with the soul classic “Rescue Me,” died Wednesday night at a St. Louis hospice of complications from a heart attack suffered three weeks ago. She was 72. Bass had also suffered a series of strokes over the past seven years. The St. Louis native, who, like so many of her contemporaries, had started out singing in a church choir, auditioned for Chess Records and landed a record deal. Her first visit to the Top 40 came in 1965, when "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing," a duet with Bobby McClure, got to #5 on the R&B charts and #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. Later that year, she co-wrote and recorded "Rescue Me," which went on to top the R&B charts and peaked at #4 Pop, though many listeners at the time assumed that the record was by Aretha Franklin, who had a similar attack and fullness. Bass haggled over royalty rights to "Rescue Me" for years before reaching a settlement in the late ’80s. Her 1995 gospel album, No Ways Tired, earned a Grammy nomination. Bass is survived by four children. (12/28a)

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