Chart-topping R&B singer Natalie Cole, who followed her legendary father into the music business with hits like “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” and “Unforgettable,” died at age 65.
“Natalie Cole, sister beloved & of substance and sound. May her soul rest in peace,” tweeted the Rev. Jesse Jackson on New Year’s Day.
A physically weakened Cole, winner of nine Grammy Awards, was forced to cancel a string of concert performances over the last three months after a recurrence of hepatitis C linked to her earlier drug abuse.
The daughter of music icon Nat (King) Cole scored a huge 1991 hit with “Unforgettable” — a virtual duet with her late father. Natalie was just 15 when her father died in 1965, a decade before his daughter launched her own solo recording career.
The album “Unforgettable … With Love” spent five weeks at No. 1 on the pop charts, sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and won six Grammy Awards.
But her career exploded with her 1975 debut album that included the massive hit single “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” and a pair of Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Performance.
Cole initially struggled with success, battling a devastating cocaine addiction until her manager sent her “kicking and screaming” to drug rehab in 1983, the singer recalled.
She had previously experimented with drugs like LSD and heroin, but it was cocaine that sent her into a spiral as her career and marriage faltered. A first trip to rehab failed, but the second one took — and she remained sober for the remainder of her life.
Her career was soon back on track with her hit cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac,” along with the singles “Jump Start My Heart” and “I Live for Your Love.”
Cole, who received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, wrote a pair of memoirs and starred in a 2001 made-for-TV movie “Livin’ For Love: The Natalie Cole Story.”
In 2009, she received a kidney from an anonymous donor after hepatitis C forced her into dialysis. Cole became a spokesperson for the University Kidney Research Organization, a group dedicated to eradicating kidney disease.
She appeared in June 2014 at the Apollo Theater’s 80th birthday celebration.