The "Queen Of Soul" and one of the most iconic and important voices in the history of recorded sound, the great Aretha Franklin, died on August 16th at age 76 near her home in Detroit. Rolling Stone posted a statement from her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn, which read, "It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Franklin passed away on Thursday morning, August 16th at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, MI, surrounded by family and loved ones. In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds. We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Aretha Franklin remains the most charted female on the Billboard magazine lists, with a whopping 73 charting records. In 1987 Aretha became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To date, she has sold 75 million records globally, making her one of the best-selling singers in history. She won 18 Grammy Awards, earned Grammy Lifetime Achievement and a Grammy Living Legend Award. In 1994 she received the Kennedy Center Honor and in 2005 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
In honor of the Queen of Soul, TV One aired two special presentations last night (August 16th), TV One on One: Aretha Franklin and Aretha: Frankly Speaking. According to Bossip, the first program featured Urban One founder, Cathy Hughes, as she sat down with Franklin for a candid discussion about her life and journey throughout her lengthy career. The second program chronicled her professional career and personal life, as told through Franklin, her close friends, family and musical team. Both presentations will re-air on Saturday (August 18th) at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.
Aretha, whose father was the Rev. C.L. Franklin, released over 75 albums of sermons and music, an active supporter of the N.A.A.C.P. and in the early-'60s and a close friend supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who he helped organize a 1963 civil rights march in Detroit shortly before Dr. King's legendary march on Washington D.C.
Aretha Franklin will forever be remembered for such timeless hits as "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "I Say A Little Prayer," "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)," "Spanish Harlem" "Think," "Rock Steady", "Jump To It", "Who's Zoomin' Who", "Chain Of Fools", "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)", "Something He Can Feel", "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" -- with George Michael, and "Freeway Of Love," among countless others.
On February 14th, 1967 Aretha Franklin recorded her signature hit -- a cover version of Otis Redding's "Respect." She taped the song in Manhattan's Atlantic Studios, playing piano on the track and using the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section -- a group of four session musicians who mainly played sessions in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, before later starting their own Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. It was Aretha's idea to use the tape of King Curtis's sax solo from Sam & Dave's "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," -- which was recorded the night before at Memphis' Stax Studios -- to create a new bridge to the song.
The song's producer Tom Dowd recalled the session: "Aretha said she liked the song, and started running (through it), although Aretha's sister Carolyn (Franklin) was instrumental in the tempo aspect of it, the way they did it with (the) 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' lines. . . It just went by very easily."
Aretha's version of "Respect" debuted in the Billboard Top 40 on May 6th, 1967, and hit Number One on June 3rd, and then held down the top spot for two weeks. Apart from being a radio staple for nearly 50 years, the song has been featured in movies like Platoon, Forrest Gump, Mystic Pizza, and Back To School -- as well as being used prominently on Candace Bergen's hit TV show Murphy Brown.
ARTISTS REACTIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA - via Ultimate Classic Rock:
Paul McCartney: "Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul"
Ringo Starr: "God bless Aretha Franklin the queen of soul and peace and love to her family"
The Rolling Stones: "Very sad to hear the news about Aretha, she was so inspiring and wherever you were she always brought you to church."
Keith Richards: "It’s a sad day but what a glorious lady. Her voice says it all!"
Brian Wilson: "I’m very sad to hear about Aretha Franklin passing. She was one of the greatest and most emotional singers. I used to love listening to her in the sixties but her music is timeless. Love & Mercy to Aretha’s family and friends."
Elton John: "The loss of ArethaFranklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists. I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance -- a benefit for at ejaf at St John The Divine Cathedral. She was obviously unwell, and I wasn’t sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof. She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends. We shared the same birthday -- and that meant so much to me. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. Love Elton"
Carole King: "What a life. What a legacy! So much love, respect and gratitude."
Diana Ross: "I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin."
Lisa Marie Presley: "Today has always been a hard day for me, and now the “Queen Of Soul” Aretha Franklin has left us, this loss saddens my heart not only was she a fellow Memphian, but she was also my inspiration to sing."
Ted Nugent: "Aretha Franklin showed us the way to the mountaintop of soul Thankyou queen we love you only forever"
Axl Rose: "RESPECT 2 the Queen!!!"
Clive Davis: "I’m absolutely devastated by Aretha’s passing. She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world."
Tony Bennett: "It was a double thrill for me to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera on my 85th birthday and have the Queen of Soul (and heart) Aretha Franklin singing with me....she will be missed by the world."
Bette Midler: "The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled. Our beloved #ArethaFranklin has gone. For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note. I loved her so and love her still. Goodbye, Queen of Soul."
Willie Nelson: "Whether it was Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Pop,or Civil Rights, Aretha Franklin was the greatest gift and the voice of a generation. She could turn any song into a hymn. She will be greatly missed here on earth, but that band in heaven just got our Angel. Rest In Peace Aretha"