Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul” died this morning of advanced pancreatic cancer. Her recordings of such classics as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” made her the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Franklin died at her Detroit home at at 9:50 a.m. She was 76.
“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,” the singer’s family said in a statement to the Associated Press. “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.”
Franklin had dealt with undisclosed health issues that had kept her off stage in recent months. In March of 2018, she canceled a pair of scheduled concerts in due to what her management described as doctor’s orders. In subsequent months, she canceled scheduled performances in Boston and Toronto with management again saying that her doctors had told her to “stay off the road and rest completely.”
Franklin was born March 25, 1942 to Rev. C. L Franklin and his wife Barbara, but her parents split shortly after moving to Detroit when she was six. Her father was a popular preacher and she grew up with gospel greats like Albertina Walker and Mahalia Jackson visiting her home. By 14, Franklin had released her first album, “Songs of Faith” and began touring on the gospel circuit until she became a teenage mother of two sons. By 18, she had signed with Columbia Records and moved to New York, where her talents quickly brought her fame – and a title. In 1965, during a show, the M.C. gave her a crown and declared her the “Queen of Soul.”
Switching to the Atlantic label in 1967, Franklin’s second single was “Respect,” probably her most acclaimed work (the lyric “r-e-s-p-e-c-t, find out what it means to me” reportedly began as a Franklin ad-lib).