Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul,' dead at 76

Lewis Collier
August 16, 2018

"Aretha Franklin was known for her hits like "Chain of Fools", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", and "Respect".

Franklin was married twice and had four sons, the first one born in her early teens.

At one of her last public performances, in June 2017, she closed out a free concert in her hometown of Detroit with the message: "God bless you, God keep you, keep me in your prayers".

"Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute" in Detroit", the statement said.

Franklin recorded a gospel album when she was just 14 and four years later signed with Columbia Records, where she produced eight albums and reached worldwide success with hit songs like "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody".

Franklin's contributions to music and pop culture received several honors throughout her life.

She had not performed publicly since Elton John's annual AIDS benefit gala in November 2017. Eventually, Aretha left Columbia to sign with Atlantic, where she really came into her own as an artist. The song was off her first platinum album, "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You". Her father was an itinerant preacher whose "million-dollar voice" later earned him fame and fortune in the pulpit and drew the likes of James Cleveland, Albertina Walker, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and Martin Luther King, his New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.

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This shot from January 1993 sees her joined by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross as they celebrate the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

Aretha's contribution to music was set in stone in 1987 when she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During her stellar career, she garnered 44 Grammy Award nominations and won 18. She also had a seven-year relationship with her road manager, Ken Cunningham. A biography said that Franklin was "overwhelmed by fear and obsessed with control" and was afraid her fans would forget her. Franklin was also known for her fear of flying; she frequently took buses instead. I will be recording, but this will be my a year ago in concert.

"When I heard (she lip-synced) I just really cracked up", she said.

Rumors swirled that Franklin's health was in decline over the last decade.

The 18-time Grammy winner's most recent performance was in November 2017 at Elton John's AIDS Foundation's 25th anniversary gala in NY. She died at 9:50 her home in Detroit.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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