Legendary R&B singer Etta James is fighting old age and disease in Southern California while her husband and son scuffle in court over control of an estimated $1 million accumulated by the 70-year-old singer over the course of her career.
James is undergoing treatment for leukemia while also battling dementia. The spunky performer is in what friends called the roughest moment of her life.
“She’s in the fight of her life, and I wish she gets the best possible care,” Josh Sklair, James’ band leader for 25 years, told The Los Angeles Times. “She’s a rebellious spirit.”
Meanwhile, James’ husband Artis Mills is in court seeking to have three of James’ accounts—said to total more than $1million—declared community property. Mills, her husband of 41 years, claims that he needs access to the cash to help cover medical expenses that he said total $30,000 a month. On Jan. 14, a Riverside County Superior Court judge awarded him $60,000 to go towards James’ bills.
“I’m only trying to take care of Etta James,” Mills told the Times.
However, James’ son, Donto James said that James gave him the power of attorney in 2008 and that he should be the one making decisions on behalf of his mother.
“All I want is my mother’s wishes to be honored,” Donto told the Press Enterprise.
James is best known for her 1960’s hits, “At Last” and “Tell Mama.” James overcame substance abuse issues early in what became a long career. Younger generations got acquainted with her through “Cadillac Records,” the 2008 film in which megastar Beyonce portrayed her.
James became upset with the pop singer after she sang “At Last” at an inaugural ball for President Obama.
“Wait a minute, he ain’t my president,” she said in a recording obtained by TMZ. “He might be yours; he ain’t my president. But I tell you that woman he had singing for him, singing my song — she’s going to get her a– whipped.” She later said she was joking.