When news spread that soul singer Fontella Bass had died, many couldn’t place the name to a face or anything else. Most knew the singer’s trademark hit “Rescue Me.” However, Bass’ story goes way beyond that one smash hit. With her recent passing, we decided to give you a few more details about the powerful singer with the distinctive voice.
Check out five things you didn’t know about Miss Fontella Bass.
1. She Hired Minnie Riperton sang Background On “Rescue Me”
Everyone remembers the iconic cover to Minnie Riperton‘s Perfect Angel where she had on the overalls and vanilla ice cream cone. Besides the cover, Minnie became famous for her pitch perfect high note on “Loving You.” People don’t know they need to thank Fontella Bass forgiving a young Minnie Riperton one of her first background singing jobs. Had there been no “Rescue Me,” “Lovin You” wouldn’t have been made a hit.
2. Bass Was Labeled A Troublemaker When She Fought Chess Records For Her Royalties
Artists fighting to receive proper songwriting credit and subsequent royalties is nothing new to a music fan. But things were very different back in the sixties for artists, especially Fontella. She co-wrote “Rescue Me” and was never credited. When she began to raise hell at Chess Records, they ignored her and went on about their business. When Bass continued to inquire about her money, she got a reputation as a troublemaker and job offerings dwindled. Bass and a host of other artists are the reason there are laws in place to defend the artists’ rights.
3. She Found Love At Work
Many musicians wind up dating each other because they are always in close proximity. The same can be said for Fontella Bass. She met and married noted trumpeter Lester Bowie. After they were married, Lester Bowie took over as Bass’ bandleader and musical director. The marriage lasted quite a while, but did end in divorce. When Fontella Bass’ solo career began to lose steam, she would occasionally guest on Bowie’s records. Bass and Bowie remained friends until his death in 1999.