The song is credited to Raynard Miner and Carl Smith. Fontella Bass says that she was working on the session that created the song, along with arranger Phil Wright, she was not credited. Minnie Riperton (“Lovin’ You) provided the background vocals. The studio band included drummer Maurice White and bassist Louis Satterfield (later of Earth, Wind & Fire). In 1965, the song went to #1 on the R&B chart, #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #11 in the U.K. It was the biggest hit of Bass’s career. And a stellar soulful performance it is.
There have been numerous covers of “Rescue Me,” including versions by Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Melissa Manchester, Stars, Tom Jones, Diana Ross, Leslie Uggams, Pat Benatar, and many others. The song has been used in various advertising campaigns, including ones for American Express and L’Oréal. Pizza Hut used a take-off of the song with Aretha Franklin singing “Delliver Me.” The song has been popular in films, too, and has been featured in In the Army Now, A Cinderella Story, Air America, Best, I Robot, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and Sister Act.
Fontella Bass was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, who was a member of the Clara Ward Singers. She is also the older sister of R&B and gospel singer David Peaston. Fontella was a singer and a pianist. She recorded with numerous labels and toured and performed for many decades, from 1961 to 2012.