The singer had been in an intensive care unit since late December after experiencing difficulty breathing.
She was recently released from hospital in Riverside, California, but returned and died there.
I have a very heavy heart for the world losing such a legend, below I have included a few tributes to her.
Beyonce, who played the late singer in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records wrote on her official website:
"This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime."
She added: "Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist.
When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter."
Aretha Franklin also paid her respects to the late singer. She said: "Etta James was one of the great soul singers of our generation. An American original! I loved 'Pushover,' 'At Last' and almost any and everything she recorded. When Etta sung, you heard it!"
Pink took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the legend adding: "RIP to the late and great Etta James. Your voice and your fight inspired me and many. I love that through recordings, people can live forever," while MC Hammer recalled: "When she sang she had the gift to become 'The Song', the pain, the love, the Glory. RIP Etta James."
Meanwhile, Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx said: "RIP Etta James. Your music soothed and ignited passion in so many of us."
While her son Donto James, who was by her bedside when she died, added "For sure, the world lost a legend today."
I feel the last tribute from her son sums it up for the way I feel
R.I.P. Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012
Peace out yall, THE BAGSTAXXXI'd rather go blind.