Family members were told late last year that James had chronic leukemia. Since March 2010, James has received round-the-clock medical care at her home in Riverside, where she moved in the late 1980s after living in Los Angeles.
James, born Jan. 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, and a trio she formed in her mid-teens called "The Peaches" caught the attention of bandleader Johnny Otis, launching her career at an early age. The Grammy Award winner toured with Otis and other artists and recorded for Modern Records until the late 1950s before achieving her greatest success after signing with pre-eminent 1960s blues label Chess Records.
"All I Could Do Was Cry," "My Dearest Darling," "Trust in Me" and "Don’t Cry, Baby" were among the 60s hits recorded by James. The rise of Chess Records was the subject of the 2008 movie, "Cadillac Records," in which Beyonce Knowles played the role of James.
The singer battled drug addiction through much of her career, but launched a comback in the 1970s. Her 1973 album was nominated for a Grammy and she signed with Warner Brothers Records in the late 1970s.
At the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA, she performed during the opening ceremony. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Etta James continued performing into the 1990s, and "Let's Roll" won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2003. During that same year, James underwent gastric bypass surgery.
James won another Grammy -- Best Traditional Blues Album -- for 2004's "Blues to the Bone."