“It is with heavy hearts that we bring to you all the news of our Mother and sister’s passing. Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived… with dignity, strength and honor,” the family said through a statement.
Natalie Cole was at the height of her career in the early 1980s when she was forced to enter a Connecticut rehab facility to treat her addictions.
She’d just released her eighth studio album, Don’t Look Back. She seemed to follow her own advice afterward.
She quickly bounced back with two hit albums, Dangerous and 1987 chart-topper Everlasting, her first platinum album in more than a decade.
Cole is perhaps best known for hits “This Will Be,” her Grammy-winning duet “Unforgettable” with Nat King Cole, and her jazzy, upbeat take on Bruce Springsteen song “Pink Cadillac.”
Although she turned around her life, she couldn’t shake the toll caused by years of drug addiction. She suffered from liver disease that was a complication of contracting Hepatitis C.
She blamed the illness on sharing dirty needles in the ’80s, according to her 2000 memoir, “Angel on My Shoulder.”
Complications from that disease played a role in her death, according to gossip site TMZ.
Despite the fame of her father, who became the first African-American to host a nationally broadcast television show in 1965, Natalie did not embrace music immediately.
She stayed out of the limelight until she’d earned a degree in child psychology from the University of Massachusetts in 1972. Once she started signing in local clubs, however, she was quickly signed to a contract on her father’s record label, Capitol.
She released her first album Inseparable in 1975 and skyrocketed to fame. She won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for lead single, “This Will Be.” She also won the Best New Artist Grammy. She won nine Grammys in all.
In 1991, she release of Unforgettable… with Love, an album of standards previously performed by her father. Their duet was an interactive feature that overlaid her singing with one of his previous recordings.
She released 21 albums in all; her last was in 2008. Still Unforgettable yielded her ninth Grammy.
Cole turned to acting in the late ’90s. She made guest appearances on “Touched by an Angel,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
She had been forced to cancel a number of recent concert appearances due to health problems, including one scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Disney Hall in Los Angeles.
Cole is survived by son, Robert Yancy, from her first marriage to producer Marvin Yancy.
“Our beloved Mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever,” her family said.
Check out the video below of one of her unforgettable hits, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest celebrity news.