R&B singer Fontella Bass, best known for her signature hit, the 1965 Top Four classic, “Rescue Me,” died on December 26th.


Bass, who was 72, died in a hospital in her native St. Louis following eight years of declining health, and made her bones as part of the legendary Chess Records stable — which was the home to such legends as Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Bo Diddley, among numerous others. Funeral arrangements are still pending.

“Rescue Me” was Bass’ only Top 10 hit — and a chart topper on Billboard’s then-Top Selling Rhythm & Blues Singles chart. The track featured former Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White on drums and the late-Minnie Ripperton — of “Lovin’ You” fame — on backing vocals.

  • In 1990 Bass sued American Express for using her original version of “Rescue Me” in a TV commercial and reached a $50,000 settlement with the credit card company three years later.
  • Among the many artists who have covered “Rescue Me” over the years include Cher, Linda Ronstadt, Pat Benatar, Bryan Ferry, Tom Jones, Ann Peebles, and Diana Ross, among many others.