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Fontella Bass

The 1965 classic "Rescue Me" is widely regarded as the greatest record Aretha Franklin never made. The song in question was instead cut by singer Fontella Bass, who like Franklin channeled the power and passion of her gospel roots to create some of the finest music of soul's golden age. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 3, 1940, Bass was the daughter of gospel vocalist Martha Bass, a longtime member of the renowned Clara Ward Singers. Her grandmother Navada Carter was also a professional gospel performer, and it was inevitable that Fontella follow suit, making her church choir debut at age five. Nevertheless, during the mid-'50s she rebelled against tradition, sneaking out of the house to sing secular R&B at local fairs and nightclubs. By 16, Bass was the house pianist at the St. Louis nightspot the Showbar, and in 1961 she joined local blues great Little Milton Campbell, later marrying the band's trumpeter, fledgling jazz titan Lester Bowie. Bass first earned notice for her vocal on Little Milton's 1962 hit "So Mean to Me," soon followed by her Bobbin label solo debut, "I Don't Hurt Anymore." But when Campbell and his pianist Oliver Sain parted ways, Bass exited along with Sain, who named her lead vocalist of his Oliver Sain Soul Revue. Her second single, the Ike Turner-produced "I Love the Man," followed on Turner's Prann label in 1963. Bass then cut "Poor Little Fool," a duet with Tina Turner issued on the Vesuvius imprint. And when she wasn't performing with Sain and his group, she moonlighted as a solo act, playing gigs across East St. Louis under the alias "Sabrina."

After the 1964 release of the Oliver Sain Soul Revue's debut effort, "Heavy Sugar," the pianist escorted Bass and singer Bobby McClure to Chicago, where he produced their duet, "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing," for Chess Records' Checker imprint. The single proved a Top Ten hit, and even after Bass left the group to mount a solo career, Sain remained a close collaborator. She relocated to Chicago in 1965 and late that same year scored the biggest hit of her career with her solo debut, "Rescue Me." A buoyant dance classic made memorable by Bass' impassioned, gritty vocal as well as the percolating bass of Chess session mainstay Louis Satterfield and Gene Barge's dynamic horn arrangement, the single topped the R&B charts for a month and crossed over to the pop Top Five. One of the biggest-selling records in Chess' storied history, "Rescue Me" remains an unqualified classic of the era and is a staple of oldies radio to this day, although many listeners now mistake the record as the work of Aretha Franklin, who ironically enough did not even enter the popular consciousness until two years later. Worse, Bass never received proper credit or financial remuneration for co-writing the song, and her subsequent battles with Chess execs earned her a reputation as a malcontent. The "Rescue Me" sound-alike "Recovery" followed in early 1966, reaching the R&B Top 20, but Bass' run as a hitmaker proved frustratingly short, and after scoring a minor hit late that same year with "Sweet Lovin' Daddy," she never returned to the U.S. charts again.

With her career mired in neutral, Bass exited Checker in 1969 and with husband Bowie -- now a renowned avant-garde player best known for his work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago -- relocated to Paris. There she collaborated with the group on an LP, the acclaimed The Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass, but otherwise focused on raising a family until returning to St. Louis in 1971, renewing ties with Oliver Sain and signing to the Shreveport, Louisiana-based Paula label. The superb single "Who You Gonna Blame" anticipated the 1972 release of the Sain-produced Free, a remarkably soulful set that is by far the most memorable LP of Bass' career. Attention from radio and retail was negligible, however, and after subsequent singles including "Now That I've Found a Good Thing" and "It's Hard to Get Back In" flopped, she exited Paula in 1974, not resurfacing until three years later with the Epic single "Soon as I Touched Him." Apart from occasional guest appearances with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, she spent the remainder of the 1970s and most of the 1980s as a homemaker, confining her musical pursuits to her Baptist church choir, but in 1990 she teamed with her mother and brother David Peaston for a gospel LP, Promises: A Family Portrait of Faith. Bass continued her return to spiritual music with the 1995 Nonesuch release No Ways Tired, touring Europe regularly in the years leading up to the 2001 appearance of her follow-up outing, Travellin', a collaboration with the Voices of St. Louis gospel choir issued on the Canadian indie Justin Time. In subsequent years Bass suffered a series of strokes, followed by a heart attack in early December 2012 -- she died in a St. Louis hospice on December 26, 2012 at the age of 72. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Comments

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Miss fontella bass did the best record in 1965 what a great song she recorded in that year. I miss you very much.
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WOW LOVE THE SONG
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That was the jan back in da day
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I like this song 60,s in the ��
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I like fontella bass music
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❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
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moteshita84
Am in love
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oldies but goodies love them
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RIP Fontella Bass! I used to listen to your mom sing gospel too. I always loved this song since I was a little girl. Minnie Riperton was one of the back up vocalist! They all sound awesome!
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Does anybody know how to download or listen to cry to me by betty Harris
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rip fontella i love you
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raulruiz0049
time of the season 4 making ♡♡♡♡ love like wow !
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I used to sing this song around the house when I was a little girl. LOL! RIP sister Fontella Bass.
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1965 Fort Lewes Washington and
Fontella Bass
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Mashed potatoes!!!
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Nice song
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I first heard this in a juke joint café by a coal heater. Folks were dancing hard. This is a dance through the floor song. Dr, P.
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Well, I feel dumb now. I always thought this was Aretha Franklin. Fontella Bass had an awesome voice.
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fields789
All this time I thought it was Aretha. I've never even heard of Fontella. That is so sad she never got the credit she so rightfully deserved. R.I.P.
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Come on over so blue
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aqilalim21 remind me of my college days , those were the days .
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"Free At Last " The-Rumble-I n - T h a - J u n g l e
H-Town~Rocki n ' ~ W e - A i n ' t - S t o p i n ' - T h a - M u s i c
Lovers-Rock- S t e a d y - S i t u a t i o n
LOVE+S Disciple*978 * 1 * ~ 9 m 1 4 y ~
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grant_smith9 1
Pretty sure Dario Marinelli did not write this song (it's credited to him at the end of the lyrics).
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I do not like you.
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sharon.guill o r y 5 5
Awesome vocalist.
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Classic
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Fontella don't hurt him,just a Fool
H-Town listening "Joy Of Love"*978*4m 1 4 y ~
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LOVE FONTELLA BASS SHE IS GREAT. RASHON IBN ALMUHYI
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Mom said I always would sing this song when I was a kid. LOL! RIP Fontella!
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jeanroberts6 9 0
Just the smell of a man......... s t a y or go???
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Her Majesty QUEEN FONTELLA!!!! ! She deserved so much more than she got. God rest her soul!
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brandon.paz0 1
Maurice White...foun d e r and creative-gen i u s of Earth, Wind and Fire was the session drummer on this song!
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leilanilouis e
Love this song
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Imss fontellà
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OMG I thought it was Aretha Franklin
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all-in00
Brings back so many memories
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sing it girl thats what im talking about
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do it Girl!
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Glad to know the trurh at last
Ignorance is hard to shake and even harder to spell
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REMBER WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN MIAMI,FL AND A GOOD FRIEND OF MY OLDER SISTER DANCED TO THIS..MARSHA . . BLESS THE GOOD OLD DAYS...RIP.. . . . . . . . . L O L
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:)
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Great song with a beautiful voice. Rest in peace
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I'm related to fontella bass!!!!:) we have a big bass family!!!:)
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God's Peace
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Rest In Peace
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awcbutterfly
this is a bad copy - great song
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dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible friday by the love of your life. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. however if you do not post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in 2 days. now youve started reading this so dont stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary cuz it actually works
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ladybugopal
Nice retro music! Love it! Rescue me! :)
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picthphoto
I was running the village In New York when I first heard this song.
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Another GREAT voice of the 60's!
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