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Etta James: Doctor felt ‘blessed’ caring for singer

January 20, 2012 | 10:09 am

Legendary singer Etta James died of complications from her long-running battle with leukemia, her personal physician said Friday morning.

James had been rushed to Parkview Community Hospital on Thursday night and died Friday morning, said Dr. Elaine James, no relation. Her two sons and husband were with her.

"We're all very sad," the doctor said. "To know her, to know her past, I feel very blessed to have been able to take care of her."

PHOTOS:  Etta James | 1938-2012

The 73-year-old performer, best known for hits such as "At Last" and "Tell Mama," had been suffering end-stage leukemia and dementia for months.

She was also hospitalized in December, but her son, Donto James, said at the time that his mother was "still fighting."

The family held a small Christmas celebration in her hospital room.

Donto James and his stepfather, Artis Mills, had been embroiled in a legal dispute over her care and control of her $1-million estate. Under a recent agreement with Donto James and his brother, Sametto James, Mills will remain as conservator of her estate. But a Riverside County Superior Court judge last month released only $350,000 for her medical costs, less than the $500,000 that Mills had requested.

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-- Phil Willon in Riverside

Photo: Etta James at the Playboy Jazz Festival in June 1990. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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