Fri, 20 Jan 2012 23:18:43 GMT | By James Hurley
Etta James dies aged 73

Etta James: 1938-2012

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Legendary American singer Etta James has died aged 73 from complications caused by leukemia.

James (who was memorably played by Beyoncé in the hit movie Cadillac Records) began her career while still a teenager in the 1950s, and went on to become of the most influential singers in popular music history.

A multiple Grammy-winner, she was ranked 22nd on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Adele recently cited her alongside Aretha Franklin as one of the two most important female vocalists of the 20th century, saying, "If you were to look up the word 'singer' in the dictionary, you'd see their names".

"This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world," said James' longtime friend and manager Lupe De Leon. "She was a true original who could sing it all. Her music defied category."

She would have turned 74 on Wednesday.

Here, we look back on her life in pictures.