Artis Mills: 10 interesting facts about Etta James' husband

Artis Mills: 10 interesting facts about Etta James' husband

Artis Mills is a celebrity husband and manager. He was a big supporter of the late American singer Etta James. Before coming into the limelight, no one knew Mills. He lived a private life until he got romantically involved with the famous singer.

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artis mills' bio
Etta James and her husband at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, United States. Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection
Source: Getty Images

Artis Mills is widely recognized as Etta James's husband. He undoubtedly lived under the influence and shadow of the late singer. However, he has many unknown things besides being Etta James's husband.

10 facts about Artis Mills

Artis Mills is a man who could best be described by the identity and popularity of his wife. Here are some exciting things you don't possibly know about him:

1. Artis met with Etta James in the late 1960s

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Who was Etta James' husband? Artis Mills married Jamesetta Hawkins, professionally known as Etta James. They met in the late 1960s and got married around 1969. The couple remained married until the singer breathed her last on 20th January 2012 at the age of 73 years. This was after a long career that lasted from 1954 to 2012.

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2. Etta James' husband has two stepsons

When Artis Mills married Etta James in 1969, she already had two sons, Donto and Sametto. So, who was Etta James' first husband? She gave birth to Donto and Sametto with different fathers, both of whom she did not marry. In other words, she married only once.

3. Artis' marriage suffered drug abuse

Etta James was struggling with hero*n addiction when he met Artis. As a result, their marriage was not always blissful but was rocked by frequent drug abuse and addiction crises. Frequent visits to the rehabilitation centres slowed down Etta James' career. She visited facilities like Tarzana Treatment Centers, Tarzana Psychiatric Hospital, and Betty Ford Center.

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Artis Mills
Etta James (centre) with (right to left) son Sametto, husband Artis Mills, granddaughter Karissa James, grandson Daviano James, daughter-in-law Christy James and son Donto. Photo: Lee Celano/WireImage
Source: Getty Images

In 1973, Artis Mills's wife was arrested her*in possession. In 1974, instead of being sent to jail, she was sentenced to drug treatment after admitting to committing the offence. Amidst all these crises, Mills and James held onto their marriage.

4. His stepsons were in the showbiz scene

Donto and Sametto, Mills' stepchildren, were also professional musical artists who sometimes performed on the same stage with their mother. In addition, Donto is a great drummer and played the drums on stage at Montreux in 1993, while his brother, Sametto, played the bass guitar at CIRCA in 2003.

5. Mills was Etta James' tour manager

Etta James's husband worked closely with her throughout their marriage and career. His job was primarily that of a support team, and he carried out his duties faithfully. Mills was always at the front, taking care of her tours and ensuring that their journeys and performances happened without any hitches.

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6. Mill's wife was black

Was Etta James black or white? Etta James was of mixed ethnicity, African-American. Her mother was an African-American single teenage mother, while her biological father was rumoured to be caucasian, though she never got to know him. The singer believed her dad was a pool player of Swiss descent named Rudolf Wanderone.

7. His wife's interest in music started at a tender age

Etta James first got her first professional vocal training when she was five. Her trainer, James Earle Hines, was the music director of the Echoes of Eden choir at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

At age 12, after her foster mom died, she moved with her mother to San Francisco, where she formed a girl group called The Creolettes. Johnny Otis became interested in the group and helped them sign a record deal, after which they released Dance with Me, Henry.

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Was Etta James Black or white?
Etta James performs during the Santa Cruz Blues Festival at Aptos Village Park in Aptos, California. Photo: Tim Mosenfelder
Source: Getty Images

8. Mills and his stepsons had legal battles before his wife's demise

Artis and his stepson had a legal battle when Mills approached the court to request access to his wife's account for money to take care of her medical bills of about $30 thousand a month. The eldest son, Donto, felt that something was wrong and decided that Mills should not have access to the account with about $1 million.

Donto cited that his ill mother was incapable of making such decisions and asked the court to invest in an independent administrator to handle his mother's estate. The court later appointed Dennis Sandoval to handle the affairs of the estate of Etta James until everything was settled.

9. His wife died in 2012

Artis Mills's wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008. In 2010, she was admitted to treat an infection caused by a bacteria resistant to antibiotics. The following year, in 2011, she was diagnosed with leukaemia which later turned out to be terminal. She died on 20th January 2012, five days before her 74th birthday and was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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10. Is Artis Mills still alive?

Etta James's husband is still very much alive. There has not been any rumour or report of his death whatsoever.

Artis Mills became a famous personality primarily because of his marriage to Etta James. Despite being rocked by controversies bordering on drug addiction and abuse, his marriage to the famous singer, remained solid until death did them part.

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