A sad, sordid saga is unveiling right now in Riverside County: papers filed in court concerning the administration of her fortune and the care-taking of R&B legend Etta James reveal a family feud over money and allegations that the "At Last" singer's health has been wrecked by leukemia and dementia.
According to local paper The Press Enterprise,
Singer Etta James, known best for her iconic recording of "At Last," is gravely ill, diagnosed with dementia and undergoing treatment for leukemia, according to court documents.
The 72-year-old Woodcrest resident's illness came to light as part of a civil case in Riverside County Superior Court in which Artis Mills, her husband of 41 years, is seeking control of more than $1 million of James' money.
More from The Press-Enterprise report:
Her son Donto James wrote in a court declaration that he does not object to money being released for her health care. But he is asking that it be overseen by a third party, "to avoid present and future family conflict and discrepancies."
The singer gave power of attorney to Donto, her other son Sametto James and Donto's wife, Christy James, in February 2008, according to court documents. Mills has challenged the power of attorney in court documents.
Mills filed for divorce in April 2008, but the petition was dismissed a few months later.
Dr. Elaine James, no relation to the singer, declared in the court documents that the singer has multiple medical conditions, including dementia, an organic brain syndrome and a recent diagnosis of leukemia.
The Beverly Hills doctor said she and other medical staff give James continuous medical care and supervision in the singer's home in the Woodcrest area, near Riverside.
Dr. James said the singer isn't able to sign her name and requires assistance with feeding, dressing and hygiene, but does recognize her husband and children. The doctor said James has been admitted to the hospital on occasion but returns home with round-the-clock care.
Mills said in court documents that his wife expressed that "if she ever became disabled, she did not wish to be placed in an institutional nursing facility as long as they had the money to keep her at home."
This is an awful situation for someone who without exaggeration could be called the Queen of R&B. Before Aretha, there was Etta James. Her underrated live album Etta James Rocks the House is, without question, one of THE BEST live rock'n'roll, R&B, whatever-you-wanna-call-it recordings ever. Check this out, then go and get a copy:
(Also, we still remember the recent ruckus when occasional Etta impersonator Beyonce had the nerve to sing "At Last" at the Obama inauguration, prompting Etta to loudly complain about being still alive and not being booked for the gig!)
Etta--all our love to you and here's hoping that your family can measure up to your enormous talent!
See also: Etta James Is Dead