Aretha Franklin

R.E.S.P.E.C.T: Stars pay tribute to Aretha Franklin

A host of stars have taken to social media to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died yesterday at the age of 76.

Writing on Twitter, Paul Young called her “The most almighty talent” while Paul McCartney said that “the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever.”

Born in Memphis in 1942, Aretha released her first record in 1960, but it was her move from Columbia Records to the Atlantic label in 1967 that kick started her career. Her reinvention of Otis Redding’s Respect went to number one on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and became her first UK hit, where it reached number 10. Franklin continued to chart strongly through the remainder of the 1960s and first half of the 1970s with hits such as Think, Don’t Play That Song and I Say a Little Prayer which reached number 4 in the UK in 1968.

After a dip in her commercial fortunes in the second half of the 1970s, Aretha moved to Arista in 1980, scoring her first UK hit in six years with a version of the Doobie Brothers’ What a Fool Believes; Franklin also had a guest role in the movie The Blues Brothers that year. 1982’s Jump To It album went gold – her first release to do so since the mid 1970s – and in 1985 Who’s Zoomin’ Who? showcased a more modern sound. Freeway of Love and the album’s title track were both hit singles, as was Aretha’s collaboration with Eurythmics, Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves which returned Franklin to the UK top ten for the first time since 1968. Annie Lennox yesterday described Aretha as “simply peerless… the most exceptional vocalist, performer and recording artist the world has ever been privileged to witness,” while Dave Stewart recalled his first meeting with Franklin: “she sat down at an old piano and sang The Way We Were with tears streaming down her face and with as much passion as if she were on stage at an Opera House… I was never the same.”

With a cover designed by Andy Warhol shortly before his death, Franklin’s next album Aretha spawned more hits, including Jimmy Lee and a reworking of the Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash, but it was her duet with George Michael on I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) that stood out, becoming her only number one hit in the UK. 1989’s Through the Storm contained three more hits, all of them duets: Gimme Your Love (with James Brown), Through the Storm (with Elton John) and the top thirty success It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be with Whitney Houston.

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Although Aretha’s reputation transcended her sporadic chart success, she continued to score hits in later years, most notably A Deeper Love (1994, #5), Willing to Forgive (1994, #17) and A Rose is Still a Rose (1998, #22). She sang at Barrack Obama’s Presidential inauguration in 2009 and released her last album of new recordings, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics in 2014, including covers of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman and Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U. Franklin’s career was rounded off in 2017 with the album A Brand New Me marrying archive vocals to new arrangements performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

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