Natalie Cole Dies at 65
(ABC News) — Natalie Cole has died, her publicist confirmed to ABC News.
The legendary singer was 65 and passed away last night in a Los Angeles hospital due to complications from ongoing health issues, her rep said.
“It is with heavy hearts that we bring to you all the news of our Mother and sister’s passing,” her son, Robert Yancy, and sisters Timolin and Casey said in a statement. “Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived..with dignity, strength and honor. Our beloved Mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever.”
Cole, who had originally been scheduled to perform in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve, withdrew from the performance more than a month beforehand, citing health reasons.
The daughter of Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole was a star in her own right, winning nine Grammy Awards throughout her decades-long career, including Best New Artist of the Year in 1975, the same year she came out with “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love).”
Cole became a star overnight, and in 1979, after she’d released four albums — two of which went platinum in one year — she was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
However, her personal life at that time began to unravel. Having married musician Marvin Yancy, the father of her son, in 1976, Cole wrote in her 2000 memoir, “Angel on My Shoulder” that the two were heavily using cocaine before they split in 1980, according to thePhiladelphia Inquirer. Yancy, who had been in recovery, died in 1985 after suffering a stroke.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Cole wrote of the divorce. “I lost sight of how happy I was in the beginning. [The divorce] was the biggest mistake of my life… My career was starting to show signs of wear and tear. And so was I.”
Cole went to rehab in 1983 and told the Inquirer that her recovery is a “day-to-day process.”
“I’ve always been an extremist,” she said. “Some of us have very addictive personalities, and for some of us, that mechanism gets tripped up. Mine certainly did. I’m not cured. You never are.”
The next decade marked a rebirth of Cole’s career. In 1991, she released her best-selling album, “Unforgettable… With Love,” which featured her take on standards that her father made famous, including a virtual duet of the title track with him. The next year, she was nominated for an Emmy for a televised performance she gave of her father’s songs.
“That was really my thank you,” she told People magazine in 2006, according to the Associated Press. “I owed that to him.”
In 1993, Cole released an jazz album, “Take a Look,” and the next year, a holiday album entitled “Holly & Ivy.” She would also release albums in 1996, 1999, 2002, and 2006.
She also began appearing on television more frequently, with guest roles on shows including “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Touched By an Angel.”
Then, another setback. In 2008, it was revealed that Cole had hepatitis C, stemming from her years of drug use, that had been dormant for years.
“I had to make peace with my past, because I can’t change it,” she told People magazine at the time.
The next year, she underwent a kidney transplant. However, she told People that she didn’t ever want illness to keep her down.
“I’m committed to working. I’m a fighter, not a chump,” she said. “The timing is intense. The album is special to me, and here I am sick. But you know the saying: These are the best of times and the worst of times. So we’ll barrel through. If I have to, I’ll kick butt sitting down.”