R&B legend Ruth Brown, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died Friday at age 78 after several weeks in a coma caused by a heart attack and stroke. To pay tribute, check out these terrific YouTube clips of Brown’s performances of the hits “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” and “Teardrops From My Eyes,” both of which will remind you why Brown was dubbed “Miss Rhythm” during her heyday as Atlantic Records first superstar in the 1950s.
Perhaps just as important as her legacy as a vocalist who influenced folks from Aretha Franklin to Bonnie Raitt were Brown’s tireless efforts as a lobbyist who worked to get record companies to pay artists’ royalties. An obituary in the Washington Post notes,
In hearings, she would shake in indignation, that voice rising and falling, and congressmen were mesmerized. Reps. Mickey Leland and John Conyers professed their complete infatuation; even Sen. Jesse Helms voiced his support, saying, “The record for me was 5-10-15 Hours.’”
While lean years in the ’60s found Brown driving a school bus and working as a Head Start teacher, a career resurgence a decade later brought her a Tony Award and a role as Motormouth Maybelle in the movie Hairspray. You can find more information about Brown’s career at her official Web site and hear additional song clips at her AOL Music page.