HITS Daily Double

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)