Singer Natalie Cole, the daughter of jazz legend Nat “King” Cole who overcame substance abuse to find success in her own right, has died at age 65, her family said Friday.
Cole, who had longstanding health issues including complications from a kidney transplant, died on New Year’s Eve at a Los Angeles hospital.
“Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived — with dignity, strength and honor,” her family said in a statement.
Quoting her most identifiable song, the family said: “Our beloved mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever.”
Tributes quickly came in. The civil rights leader Jesse Jackson mourned Cole on Twitter as a “sister beloved… of substance and sound. May her soul rest in peace.”
In contrast to the rags-to-riches stories of many other artists of her generation, Cole was raised in relative affluence in Los Angeles.
Her career was inextricably linked to that of her father.
She had her first break performing in clubs as the daughter of Nat “King” Cole, but struggled to find her niche singing more modern R&B numbers.
After delving into R&B, soul and pop, Cole achieved her greatest success in 1991 by returning to some of the classics sung by her father.
Her album, “Unforgettable… With Love,” won the Grammy for Album of the Year and has sold more than seven million copies in the United States.
In a technical feat considered novel in the day, Cole sang the title track — with its elegant, string-backed opening line “Unforgettable, that’s what you are” — in a duet with her father who had died in 1965.
Cole later pursued a career in acting, appearing in several prime-time US series. But her life was marred by personal woes including drug use and three divorces.
In a 2000 autobiography, “Angel on My Shoulder,” Cole related how she struggled with depression especially after the deaths of her father and her son who drowned in a swimming pool.
Cole became addicted to heroin and crack cocaine. She repeatedly sought rehab but was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and underwent a liver transplant.