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Vintage Video #1's: Fontella Bass Tops the R&B Chart With "Rescue Me"

by VVN Music

52 years ago today, on October 30, 1965, Fontella Bass hit the top of the R&B Singles chart with "Rescue Me"

Bass was born in St. Louis to Martha Bass, a singer for the Clara Ward Singers and, by the age of 9, was touring with her. She began her professional career playing piano for Little Milton but eventually moved out front of the Oliver Sain Song Revue, Milton's band, with singer Doug McClure.

In 1964, she moved to Chicago and was almost immediately signed by Chess Records. The label once again paired her with McClure and they charted twice with "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing" and "You'll Miss Me (When I'm Gone)" before she got her shot at solo fame with "Rescue Me".

The song came out of a Chess Records workshop for songwriting and there is some dispute as to whether Bass should have shared a songwriting credit with Raynard Miner and Carl Smith.  She recorded the song in just three takes with the help of studio musicians such as Maurice White and Louis Satterfield, later of Earth, Wind and Fire, and a young Minnie Ripperton on backup vocals.

The song went to 4 on the Hot 100, 1 on the R&B singles and 11 in the U.K.

The top five singles on the R&B Singles for October 30, 1965.
  1. Rescue Me - Fontella Bass
  2. I Want to (Do Everything For You) - Joe Tex
  3. Ain't That Peculiar - Marvin Gaye
  4. Treat Her Right - Roy Head and the Traits
  5. Let's Move & Grove (Together) - Johnny Nash