Etta James | Singer Net Worth

What was Etta James’ Net Worth?

Etta James was an American singer and songwriter whose music bridged the genres of blues, gospel, jazz, soul, rock, and more. Known for her deep, sonorous singing voice, she recorded such hit songs as “At Last,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” and “Tell Mama.”

Known for her powerful voice and unique style that blended various genres, including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, and jazz. She was born on January 25, 1938, in Los Angeles, California, and began singing in a church choir at a young age.

Etta James rose to fame in the 1950s and 1960s with hits such as “The Wallflower,” “At Last,” “All I Could Do Was Cry,” and “Tell Mama.” Her music influenced many artists, and she was recognized with numerous awards throughout her career, including six Grammy Awards and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition to her music career, Etta James had a tumultuous personal life, struggling with drug addiction and legal issues. She passed away on January 20, 2012, at the age of 73. Despite her struggles, her music continues to be celebrated and remembered as a testament to her incredible talent and legacy in American music history.

Although her career was impeded by substance addiction and legal trouble in the 1960s and 70s, James made a comeback in the late 80s with her album “Seven Year Itch,” and continued to grow in popularity after that. Over the span of her career, she won six Grammy Awards and 17 Blues Music Awards. Then, in 1993, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, before doing the same for the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and then again in 2008. James suffered for years from a drug addiction, and was legally required to attend treatment in 1974. She attended treatment again in 1988 and 2010 for painkillers. Unfortunately Etta James died on January 20, 2012 of leukemia at the age of 73.

What was Etta James’ Net Worth?

Etta James had a net worth of $1 million at the time of her death

Early Life

Etta James was born as Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, California to 14-year-old Dorothy. She never knew her father. Growing up, James lived with a series of foster parents while her mother had dalliances with various men. She got into singing at an early age, receiving her first professional vocal training when she was five. Her mentor was St. Paul Baptist Church choir director James Earle Hines, who abused her physically. James was also abused at home by her foster father Sarge.

Career Beginnings

James began her professional singing career on the Chitlin’ Circuit, performing at R&B clubs in Nashville, Tennessee. Eventually, she formed the girl group the Creolettes, which was taken under the wing of musician Johnny Otis. He helped the group land a record deal with Modern Records, at which point the Creolettes changed to the Peaches.

Hits of the 50s and 60s

In 1955, James had one of her first major hits with the song “The Wallflower,” which she recorded with the Peaches. The track reached number one on the R&B chart. After departing the Peaches, James had another R&B hit with “Good Rockin’ Daddy.” In the early 60s, she left Modern Records and signed to Chess Records; it was around this time that she became acquainted with singer Harvey Fuqua. James did many duets with Fuqua, including the hit singles “If I Can’t Have You” and “Spoonful.” She subsequently had solo hits with “All I Could Do Was Cry” and “My Dearest Darling.” James went on to release her debut album, “At Last!,” in late 1960; it featured the future classics “A Sunday Kind of Love” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You.” Early the next year, James released her signature song, “At Last,” originally recorded by Glenn Miller. She later released her second studio album, “The Second Time Around.”

James continued to release many hits throughout the early 60s. She had some of her greatest successes with the songs “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” “Stop the Wedding,” and “Pushover.” Following a break from recording, James returned in 1967 with her comeback hit “Tell Mama.” As a result of her success with that recording, she became an in-demand concert performer.

Further Career

James released many albums and singles in the 70s, but was unable to match the peak of her success in the 60s. Still, she had solid hits with the singles “Losers Weepers” and “I Found a Love,” and earned a Grammy Award nomination for her 1973 self-titled album. In 1978, James served as the opening act for the Rolling Stones. She soon left Chess Records and didn’t record for a decade due to her struggles with substance addiction.

James performed occasionally in the early 80s, including at Grateful Dead concerts and at the opening ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Her comeback, however, didn’t come until the end of the decade with the release of her album “Seven Year Itch,” recorded for Island Records. Following that, James released “Stickin’ to My Guns,” and then “The Right Time.” In 1993, she signed to Private Music Records and released a Billie Holiday tribute album, which won her her first Grammy Award. Later in the decade, James had a hit with her album “Life, Love & the Blues.” Her albums in the 21st century include “Blue Gardenia,” “Let’s Roll,” and “Blues to the Bone,” the latter two of which garnered her Grammy Awards. James’s final studio album, “The Dreamer,” came out in 2011.

In the mid-60s, James had become addicted to heroin. To feed her addiction, she forged prescriptions, stole from friends, and bounced checks. This resulted in her arrest in 1966, leading to probation and a fine. James continued to face legal problems in the 70s due to her addiction, including multiple arrests for possession. However, in 1974, she was sentenced to drug treatment in lieu of serving time in prison. For 17 months, James stayed at the Tarzana Psychiatric Hospital.

Personal Life and Death

James was married to Artis Mills from 1969 until she passed away in 2012. She had two sons, Donto and Sametto, who were born to different fathers.

In early 2010, James was hospitalized to treat a bacterial infection. The following year, she was diagnosed with leukemia. On January 20, 2012, James passed away at Riverside Community Hospital in Riveside, California days before her 74th birthday. She is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery.


Although she was once considered among the most overlooked R&B artists in American music history, by the 1990s James had earned widespread recognition, including major industry awards from the Recording Academy and the Blues Foundation. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Her legacy continues on, with many of her songs having been covered by other artists. James was portrayed by Beyoncé Knowles in the 2008 film “Cadillac Records.”

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates.

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