Her most recent Chicago appearance was at the 2017 Chicago Blues Festival.
Denise LaSalle, whose sizzling “Trapped by a Thing Called Love” topped the Billboard R&B charts in 1971, and who called Chicago home for many years, has died, according to the Jackson Sun. She was 78.
The blues queen, whose real name was Ora Denise Allen, was born in Leflore County, Mississippi, in 1939. She moved to Chicago as a teenager and ultimately signed with Chess records. Her most recent Chicago appearance was at the 2017 Chicago Blues Festival.
“I made up my mind that I was leaving Mississippi if it’s the last thing I do,” LaSalle told the Chicago Reader in a June 2017 interview. In Chicago she took the name “LaSalle” from a French character she saw in a newspaper cartoon. She spent a few years with gospel group the Sacred Five before meeting R&B singer Billy “the Kid” Emerson while she worked as a barmaid at a lounge on 51st and Calumet. She credited Emerson with launching her career.
The singe/songwriter, whose musical styles ran the gamut from blues to soul to R&B, released more than 30 albums in her 50-year career, her most recent being “24 Hour Woman” in 2010. Her Top Ten R&B singles, which, in addition to “Trapped by a Thing Called Love,” also included “Now Run and Tell That” and “Man Sized Job” (Westbound Records), catapulted her to fame in the 1970s.
In recent months, LaSalle was dealing with several health issues, and in October she underwent surgery to amputate her right leg after suffering a fall. She’d planned to open the Denise LaSalle Blues Academy of Performing Arts in Jackson, Tennessee, and was still working to achieve that, the Sun reported.
LaSalle was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2015. She founded the National Association for the Preservation of the Blues in 1986.
She is survived by her husband, disc jockey James “Super Wolfe” Wolfe Jr.