TEENA MARIE dead at 54
Singer/songwriter TEENA MARIE has died. She was 54.
The cause of death was not immediately known but Marie's publicist, Lynn Jeter, told CNN that she suffered a grand mal seizure a month ago, PEOPLE reports.
Born Mary Christine Brockert in California in March, 1956, the Grammy Award-nominated star found fame as a protegee of late funk legend Rick James.
As Tina Marie Brockert, she landed a role on TV show The Beverly Hillbillies as a child, but her career really took off in the mid-1970s when she signed to Motown Records. As a label artist, she came to the attention of James, who produced her debut album Wild and Peaceful.
The album featured Teena Marie's first big hit, I'm Just a Sucker for Your Love.
By her third album, 1980's Irons in the Fire, Teena Marie was writing and producing all her own tunes. The album featured her first top 40 hit, Need Your Lovin'. She followed that success by performing Fire & Desire with her mentor James on his cult album Street Sounds.
Her solo Motown hits included Square Biz and It Must be Magic.
She also made music industry history in the early 1980s when she took her record label executives at Motown to court over a contract issue - the battle resulted in new laws that made it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material.