Natalie Cole, jazz and R&B singer, dies aged 65

The iconic singer and daughter of Nat King Cole had battled ongoing health issues

Jazz and R&B singer Natalie Cole passed away on Thursday night (December 31) at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles due to complications from ongoing health issues. She was 65.

The death was announced by her publicist Maureen O’Connor, followed by a statement from her son, Robert Yancy, and sisters Timolin and Casey Cole. The statement reads: “Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived… with dignity, strength and honour. Our beloved mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever.”

Performers and friends also paid tribute to the singer following the news of her death. “I had to hold back the tears. I know how hard she fought,” said Aretha Franklin in a statement. “She fought for so long. She was one of the greatest singers of our time.”

The Grammy-winning artist – the daughter of Nat King Cole – whose hits include Unforgettable, Our Love and This Will Be had battled drug problems in the past and spent six months in rehab in 1983, a topic which Cole had written frankly about in her 2000 memoir Angel on My Shoulder. She was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2008, and in May 2009 underwent a kidney transplant.

Cole was born in 1950 to Nat King Cole and his wife, Maria Ellington Cole. She made her recording debut in 1975 with ‘Inseparable’, earning her two Grammy awards. However, her greatest success came with 1991 album ‘Unforgettable… With Love’. The album paid tribute to her late father, and saw Cole rework some of his best-known songs, including Too Young, Mona Lisa and Unforgettable. The album sold 14 million copies and won six Grammys, including album of the year.