Grammy award-winning singer Ruth Brown died yesterday (17NOV06) after suffering a string of health complaints since 2000. She was 78. The Virginia-born star died of complications following a stroke and heart attack, and had been on a life support machine at a Las Vegas hospital earlier this week (begs13NOV06). Brown was an influential figure on both the R+B and rock 'n' roll scenes in the 1950s, and revived her career in the 1970s and 1980s through musical theatre and film. After landing a role in 1988 cult movie HAIRSPRAY, she won a Tony Award for her role in Broadway revue BLACK AND BLUE in 1989, and was presented with a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance on the album BLUES ON BROADWAY the same year. In her later years she was a vocal fighter for the rights of older R+B musicians, and in 1987 helped to establish the Rhythm + Blues Foundation, which provides medical and financial support for older artists, as well as helping to preserve the R+B genre.