Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer and pianist. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but achieving only modest success. After signing to Atlantic Records in 1966, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, and “Spanish Harlem”.
By the end of the 1960s she was being called “The Queen of Soul”. Franklin recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Young, Gifted and Black (1972) and Amazing Grace (1972), before experiencing problems with her record company by the mid-1970s. After her father was shot in 1979, she left Atlantic and signed with Arista Records, finding success with the albums Jump to It (1982) and Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985), and her part in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. In 1998, Franklin received international acclaim for singing the opera aria “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards that year, replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that year, she scored her final Top 40 song with “A Rose Is Still a Rose”.
Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and 20 number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. Franklin’s other well-known hits include “Rock Steady”, “Jump to It”, “Freeway of Love”, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, “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 a remake of The Rolling Stones song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance from 1968 through to 1975, and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career, including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, she was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists by Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
After being raised in Detroit, Franklin relocated to New York City in the 1960s, where she lived until moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. She eventually settled in Encino, Los Angeles where she lived until 1982. She then returned to the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan to be close to her ailing father and siblings. Franklin maintained a residence there until her death. Following an incident in 1984, she cited a fear of flying that prevented her from traveling overseas; she performed only in North America afterwards. Franklin was the mother of four sons. She first became pregnant at the age of 12 (!) and gave birth to her first child, named Clarence after her father, on January 28, 1955. According to the news site Inquisitr, “The father of the child was Donald Burk, a boy she knew from school.” On January 22, 1957, then aged 14 (!), Franklin had a second child, named Edward after his father Edward Jordan. Franklin did not like to discuss her early pregnancies with interviewers.
Both children took her family name. While Franklin was pursuing her career and “hanging out with [friends]”, Franklin’s grandmother Rachel and sister Erma took turns raising the children. Franklin would visit them often. Franklin’s third child, Ted White Jr., was born in February 1964 and is known professionally as Teddy Richards. He has provided guitar backing for his mother’s band during live concerts. Her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham was born in 1970 and is the child of her road manager Ken Cunningham.
Franklin was married twice. Her first husband was Theodore “Ted” White, whom she married in 1961 at age 19. Franklin had actually seen White the first time at a party held at her house in 1954. After a contentious marriage that involved domestic violence, Franklin separated from White in 1968, divorcing him in 1969. Franklin then married her second husband, actor Glynn Turman, on April 11, 1978 at her father’s church. By marrying Turman, Franklin became stepmother of Turman’s three children from a previous marriage. Franklin and Turman separated in 1982 after Franklin returned to Michigan from California, and they divorced in 1984. At one point, Franklin had plans to marry her longtime companion Willie Wilkerson. Franklin and Wilkerson had had two previous engagements stretching back to 1988. Franklin eventually called the 2012 engagement off. Franklin’s sisters, Erma and Carolyn, were professional musicians as well and spent years performing background vocals on Franklin’s recordings. Following Franklin’s divorce from Ted White, her brother Cecil became her manager, and maintained that position until his death from lung cancer on December 26, 1989. Sister Carolyn died the previous year in April 1988 from breast cancer, while eldest sister Erma died from throat cancer in September 2002. Franklin’s step-brother Vaughn died two months after Erma in late 2002. Her half-sister, Carl Kelley (née Jennings; born 1940) is C. L. Franklin’s daughter by Mildred Jennings, a then 12-year-old congregant of New Salem Baptist Church in Memphis, where C. L. was pastor.
In 2010, Franklin canceled a number of concerts, after she decided to have surgery for an undisclosed tumor. Discussing the surgery in 2011, she quoted her doctor as saying that it would “add 15 to 20 years” to her life. She denied that the ailment had anything to do with pancreatic cancer, as had been rumored. On May 19, 2011, Franklin had her comeback show in the Chicago Theatre. In May 2013, she canceled two performances to deal with an undisclosed medical treatment. Later the same month, she canceled three June concerts and planned to return to perform in July. A show scheduled for July 27 in Clarkston, Michigan was canceled due to continued medical treatment. In addition, she canceled an appearance at a Major League Baseball luncheon in Chicago honoring her commitment to civil rights on August 24. She also canceled a performance of September 21 in Atlanta due to her health recovery. During a phone interview with the Associated Press in late August 2013, Franklin stated that she had a “miraculous” recovery from her undisclosed illness but had to cancel shows and appearances until her health was at 100%, estimating she was about “85% healed”. Franklin later returned to live performing, including a 2013 Christmas concert at Detroit’s MotorCity Casino Hotel. She launched a multi-city tour in mid-2014, starting with a performance on June 14 in New York at Radio City Music Hall.
In 2017, Franklin canceled a series of concerts due to health reasons. During an outdoor Detroit show, she asked the audience to “keep me in your prayers”. In July 2017, Franklin reemerged, appearing to have lost more weight before a performance at the Wolf Trap in Virginia. In 2018, she canceled a series of shows, citing doctor’s orders. Franklin’s final performance was at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City during Elton John’s 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on November 7, 2017.
On August 13, 2018, Franklin was reported to be gravely ill at her home in Riverfront Towers, Detroit. She was reported to be under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family. Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson, and ex-husband Glynn Turman, among others, visited her on her deathbed. Franklin died at her home on August 16, 2018, aged 76. The cause was reported to be pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor. Numerous celebrities in the entertainment industry and politicians paid tribute to Franklin, including former U.S. president Barack Obama who said she “helped define the American experience”. Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton called her a “civil rights and humanitarian icon”.
A private funeral was arranged for August 31, following a two-day public viewing of Franklin’s casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. (by wikipedia)
To honor this great woman … here´s a rare live broadcast recording from 1970, recorded live at the Jazzfestival Antibes/France.
Thanks to cosmikd for sharing the show at Dime.
Recorded live at the Festival de Jazz d’Antibes, Juan-les-Pins,
Antibes, France; July 21, 1970. Very good FM broadcast.
Hindel Butts (drums)
Aretha Franklin (piano, vocals)
Leslie Harvey (guitar)
Melvin Jackson (bass)
Ted Sheely (piano)
Truman Thomas (organ)
Donald Towns – John Wilson – Charles Horse – Clay Robinson
Chancey Outcalt – René Pitts
Louis Barnett – Miller Brisker – Donald Walden – Charlie Gabriel
Evelyn Green, – Almeta Latimer – Wyline Ivy
01. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Jagger/Richards) 3.03
02. Respect (Redding) 3.15
03. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Goffin/King/Wexler) 4.18
04. I Say A Little Prayer (Bacharach/David) 4:31
05. Eleanor Rigby (Lennon/McCartney) 3.10
06. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone (Franklin/White) 4.54
07. Tighten Up Your Tie, Button Up Your Jacket (Make It For The Door) (Dawn) 1.53
08. Put On A Happy Face (Adams/Strouse) 2.26
09. A Brand New Me (Gamble/Bell/Butler) 3.04
10. Doctor Feelgood (Franklin/White) 4.36
11. You Send Me (Cooke) 5.23
12. Spirit In The Dark (Franklin) 11.41
25th March 1942 Memphis, Tennessee, USA
16th August 2018 Detroit, Michigan, USA
REST IN PEACE !