February 6th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
3 years ago

James: Obama, Beyonce slams were just jokes

Etta James said she was only trying to be funny when she insulted President Barack Obama and singer Beyonce.
Etta James said she was only trying to be funny when she insulted President Barack Obama and singer Beyonce.

(CNN) – Legendary singer Etta James said she was only trying to be funny when she said Beyonce is “gonna get her ass whupped” and that President Obama has “big ears.”

James, who first made the comments at a concert in Seattle last week, told the Daily News on Friday that she continued the insults because the crowd was laughing. She said that her jokes were “not from a vicious place.”

"I didn't really mean anything," James told the Daily News. "Even as a little child, I've always had that comedian kind of attitude. That's probably what went into it."

James added that she was "feeling left out of something that was basically mine, that I had done every time you look around."

The legendary singer told the paper that she’s always thought Obama was “handsome,” but said that because of her joke he “might not ever like me in life.”

But Obama has “other stuff [to worry about] besides Etta James,” she said.

James, famous for the song “At Last,” did admit she was annoyed that Beyonce was chosen to perform the song as the first couple danced together on Inauguration night. James, when asked if she could have done better, said “I think so. That’s a shame to say that.”


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soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. NW

    Didn't she say “You know the one with big ears? Yeah, wait a minute. He ain’t my president.”

    Joke, huh?

    February 6, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. TyWebb

    Yeah...right.

    February 6, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. cmoore

    Obama has shown in the first 2 weeks that he will be the worst president , EVER!

    February 6, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Native Texan

    Yeah right.

    February 6, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. Come again!

    That's a darn lie and you know it Ms. James.....you realized your little tirade was not playing well in the msm and now you want to back track. Sorry too late. You will go down in history now as a bitter, hateful old cow. You should have been honored Beyonce chose to play you in a movie....its not like she needed the creds. YOU FOOL!

    February 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. I witnessed history!

    Etta has obviously relapsed.

    February 6, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    They must've caught her before her morning highball.

    February 6, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Paying Attention Yet??

    I think this is funny. So many people got bent out of shape about her comments and come to find out she was making a joke. I guess, the moral of this story, children, is to get the full facts before you make remarks. That's for you "Obamanuts" and those that dislike the President. He's still the President. Get over yourselves.

    February 6, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. BB

    Nice to hear one person be honest and apologize. All we have today is divisiveness, hate, news channels provoking divisiveness and hate.

    It's enough to want to shoot my tv. Where do I buy a gun?

    February 6, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. John G

    No Ms Etta don't back down. Say what's on your mind and those of us who still believe in the Constitution will stand behind you till the bitter end!

    February 6, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Etta Baby,
    "At Last " when the time comes ! Followed with a hot version of ,"I just want to make love to you !
    Save the best for Last Soul Sister

    February 6, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Sollberger

    ok Lady now is a good time to call it quit

    February 6, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. carlo

    I don't know why this was even a story. The woman is old, for crying out loud! I'm glad they can't hear some of the crazy crap my grandmother says. The evening news for the past 8 years have been hilarious. She went into a cursing rage every time she saw Bush or Cheney.

    February 6, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. John

    Are you kidding me? After all the jokes made about Bush over the past 8 years, this lady is getting flack for making fun of Obama's ears? We are in a sad state of affairs in the U.S.

    February 6, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    Etta James should have sang her trademark song, instead of someone who has never paid any dues in her life. Beyonce's career was made possible because of her looks and she dances like a pole dancing/lap dancing/stripper. The only time Beyonce dressed like a lady was at the Kennedy Center's Honors (the earrings were a major mistake).

    February 6, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Robin

    Oh please, she started getting flack from Obamamites and caved.

    February 6, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. ginger

    Ms. James, I am a fan but... really don't take the public for stupid. Perhaps you are not aware that we have youtube.

    February 6, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Karen- Change is coming

    Etta James WOMAN UP... Honestly, you said something very wrong and hurtful, now just fess up and move on. You bashed a young woman who had total respect for you and gave tribute to you paving the way for her and so many others in the music industry. I just watched a clip on youtube where Beyonce song At Last, then came out in the audience to say thank you to YOU and stated she would not be here today if it wasn't for people like you who paved away for her in the music industry. You, Ms. James are a total disgrace.

    Note to Beyonce: There are so many legends in the music industry that would be grateful and honored for you to bring their story to light. Search out those people and leave Ms. James to her own demised.

    February 6, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Franky

    "James, who first made the comments at a concert in Seattle last week, told the Daily News on Friday that she continued the insults because the crowd was laughing. She said that her jokes were “not from a vicious place.”

    And you know what? I believe her as well, LOL!! Come on guys, she's old-school...too old-school for me that's for sure, LOL!

    I gotta say, Gov Palin named bristol after ESPN? I gotta say, that's pretty cool. You see, these are the kinds of interviews I wanna see from her, not people pushing her buttons and hopefully have her say what they want her to say. People like that just wanna make things complicated and quite frankly, if there's one I know for a FACT, Gov Palin is not complicated...

    Tell Gov Palin I got the hook up on ESPN! I could make her more powerful than the Clintons...plus, I tried getting in a job and be powerful, is tough, LOL!!

    February 6, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Karen- Change is coming

    Etta James WOMAN UP… Honestly, you said something very wrong and hurtful, now just fess up and move on. You bashed a young woman who had total respect for you and gave tribute to you paving the way for her and so many others in the music industry. I just watched a clip on youtube where Beyonce song At Last, then came out in the audience to say thank you to YOU and stated she would not be here today if it wasn't for people like you who paved away for her to be in the music industry. You, Ms. James are a total disgrace.

    Note to Beyonce: There are so many legends in the music industry that would be grateful and honored for you to bring their story to light. Search out those people and leave Ms. James to her own demised.

    February 6, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. dave in cincy

    I'm sure that Rush Limbaugh will schedule Etta on his radio show for additional idiotic insults. This is just his style.

    February 6, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. CML

    I hae nothing against Ms Jasmes but I don't think her comments were jokes, she was angry and she said what she meant.

    February 6, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Peggy - TX

    Etta James’ bitter comments were just typical rants of an old lady. She is clearly pathetic shadow of her former greatness. She is lashing out because she is now old and irrelevant and her targets are the new, young and talented – I feel for her.

    But, she speaks from a dark place where jealously has clouded her judgment, much like the angry rants of Cheney, Romney and Palin sad pathetic attempts to diminish President Obama, whose performance continues to outshine all expectations as he tackles what is seeming one insurmountable crisis after another that resulted from eight years of Republican neglect, incompetence, and a scary, almost psychopathic need, to make war.

    February 6, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. Matthew, Detroit

    Barack needs to get it together.

    Monday they are going to announce over a trillion for housing bailout.

    February 6, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. obama-mama

    She is still too old to act this way. When did Etta become a comedian. She meant everything she said. Get a life and get over it.

    February 6, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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