Artis Mills was married to the legendary American singer, Etta James for many years. His fame and popularity came by marriage to the singer of many Hit songs of the last years of the 20th century. Etta Mills won many awards in the later years of her life. Yet her songs, Somethings Got a Hold on Me and At Last remain her signature mark for all time.
Unlike his popular wife, Artis Mills was shadowed by her successful music career yet he supported her through the dips and highs of life during the period of their marriage.
All The Elusive Facts About Artis Mills
1. His Early Life
Mills’ early life and details about his birth are shrouded in mystery. However, his wife Etta has an interesting history. She was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles on June 25, 1938. Her mother was Dorothy Hawkins while her father is alleged to be Rudolf Wanderone well known as Minnesota Fats.
Her childhood had its own memorable occasions like being trained by church-going foster parents who took her to the church where she started singing at the age of five. She later moved back with her mother at the age of twelve.
2. Artis Mills was Married to Etta James For More Than Three Decades
The less known spouse of Etta, Artis met her in the course of her drug rehab being an addict himself. He married Etta in 1969 and remained with her for the duration of her career ups and downs henceforth.
Their relationship was constantly shadowed by drug usage. Mills and James’ marriage outlived their drug usage, career shuttles, and other life challenges. All in all, they were married for more than 33 years.
3. He Served 10 Year Prison Sentence for Drug Charges
His marriage to Etta had its dips and highs yet their drug problems is one of their less admirable traits. The legendary singer admitted to drug addiction which had an effect on her career and sent her to many years of hiatus till her comeback in the 80s.
Unknowing to many people it was an issue at the heart of their marriage. Etta obviously went in and out of rehab several times. Etta made stops at facilities such as Tarzana Treatment Centers, Tarzana Psychiatric Hospital, and Betty Ford Center.
She was arrested for drug usage in 1973 and sentenced to drug treatment in 1974. Yet it was Artis that ended up going to prison to serve a ten-year sentence for drug use too.
He took responsibility for drugs during an arrest in place of his wife.
4. The Widower of The Legendary Singer Worked As Her Tour Manager
Throughout Artis’s marriage to the iconic singer whose vocal range changed over the course of her career, she was the most well-publicized of the couple. Yet, he had also worked in her shadow to make sure things moved smoothly.
He had worked as a tour manager for the late legendary singer of At Last and Somethings Got A Hold On Me among many other songs.
5. Artis Mills Became The Stepfather of Etta’s Two Children
Artis and Etta never had any biological children together, however, he became a father to her two children from previous relationships. Her two sons Donto James and Sametto James have different fathers yet not much is known about their fathers.
Like their mother, both children had an artistic streak in the performance arts. Donto and Sametto are both musicians that performed with their mom at different points in her career. Donto specialized in drums while his brother is a bassist.
Over the years, Donto performed several of his mother’s songs.
6. His Wife, Etta James Died of Leukemia
Artis’s wife enjoyed a flourishing career for many decades with the number of songs she released. However, the last years of her life slowed her down both professionally and physically.
Her son, Donto revealed that his mother had earlier been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2008 following her hospitalization in 2010. Her condition further deteriorated the following year after she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Artis lost his wife, Etta James of many years on January 20, 2012, after losing her battle with Leukemia. Etta was 73 years at the time of her death.
7. Artis Mills and His Stepsons Had Legal Battles Before Etta James’ Death
The cloud over the lives of Artis and his wife’s sons gathered even while she was lying on her death bed. Artis approached the court for a petition to gain access to her bank accounts so as to settle her medical bills.
Reportedly, Etta’s account had $1 million in it while her medical bills were running to the tune of $30 000 monthly. Artis’s petition to gain access to Etta’s money did not go down well with her son who felt something was fishy and he challenged Artis’s request stating his mother was not quite well for such decisions.
Artis’s stepson, Donto asked the court to appoint an independent administrator to look into the estate of his mother rather than Artis. He reportedly claimed to have been given the power of attorney for his mother’s estate.
The court appointed Dennis Sandoval to take care of her affairs. Meanwhile, fingers were already pointing with a lot of allegations regarding how her money was to be spent.
8. Etta James Won Many Awards in The Latter Part of Her Life
The crooner and recorder of 29 studio albums, Etta James is one of the least recognized singers of her time despite the success of her work. It was only later in life that recognitions and awards started pouring forth for her.
Etta received six Grammys with the first being the 1995 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal performance on her Mystery Lady Album. Subsequently, other Grammys and awards followed from different bodies. Her recognitions and awards came from:
9. His Wife Was Unhappy With Beyonce’s Rendition of Her At last
Known for some of the most timeless songs ever, it was quite a shock for Etta to hear another singer ‘take her place’. The younger singer, Beyonce first performed At Last as Etta in the movie Cadillacs Records. Notably, At Last, was not originally Etta’s song but she made it her signature song following her comeback and hit in 1961.
Obviously, Etta became uncomfortable after Beyonce was invited to sing At Last at the Inauguration of Barrack Obama, the first US president of African descent. She uttered her disdain for Beyonce but later clarified she felt bad for not being invited to sing ‘her song’ herself.
Moreso, Etta was reported to be suffering from many health complications at the time which clouded her judgment of Beyonce’s performance.
10. How Much is Artis Mills’ Net Worth?
The celebrity husband’s employment history is sketchy. Except for his work as Etta’s tour manager, not much is known about his career. He has also not revealed his net worth.
However, he shared in the success of his late wife, Etta James who had a net worth of $16 million at the time of her death in 2012. He was put in charge of his wife’s finances following the directives of judge Thomas H Cahraman. Her finances was capped at $350 000 against the $500 000 he had asked for his wife’s treatment in 2011.
Having enjoyed a successful career throughout the duration of their marriage, it’s not surprising for Mills to be a beneficiary of her estate.