March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018
Paul McCartney and Elton John are among the many who have paid tribute to America’s undisputed Queen Of Soul, who at the age of 76 lost a battle with pancreatic cancer. A statement said that the iconic singer/songwriter, an 18-time Grammy, winner died “at her home in Detroit, surrounded by family and loved ones”.
Elton John called the Franklin death “a blow for everybody who loves real music: music from the heart, the soul and the Church”. He continued: “Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists. I adored her and worshipped her talent… The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.”
Paul McCartney said: “She will be missed, but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever.”
Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and began her career singing gospel at a Baptist Church in Detroit. She went on to sign with Columbia Records and recorded a string of classic tracks including Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Think, I Say A Little Prayer, Chain Of Fools and Baby I Love You. She sold more than 75 million records, notching up more than 100 Billboard-charted singles. In 1987 she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Franklin recorded The Weight with Duane Allman in 1969 and famously appeared in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers alongside John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
In February 2017, Franklin announced her intention to stop touring, yet she continued to book concerts. The public performance that proved to be her last was at an Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York in November 2017.
Away from music, Franklin was a political animal. Her father CL helped Dr Martin Luther King to organise his Walk To Freedom, and she performed Precious Lord at King’s memorial service in 1968. Aretha also performed at the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009, and at concerts for Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Bill Clinton in 1993.
A statement released by Barack and Michelle Obama said simply: “Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine.” DL