Fontella Bass, the singer whose 1965 hit “Rescue Me
” was an indelible example of the decade’s finest pop-soul, died on Wednesday in St. Louis. She was 72. The cause was complications of a recent heart attack, her daughter Neuka Mitchell said.
Ms. Bass was born in St. Louis on July 3, 1940, and learned gospel at the side of her mother, Martha Bass, a member of one of the era’s major traditional gospel groups, the Ward Singers. From a young age she served as her mother’s pianist, but eventually, as an adolescent, got the itch to sing secular music. By the early 1960s she was playing with Little Milton, a blues guitarist and singer with links to the Chess label in Chicago.