Legendary singer Aretha Franklin dead at 76
Advertisement

Legendary singer Aretha Franklin dead at 76

Legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76.

Admitted into hospice care on August 13, Franklin had been surrounded by family and friends in her last few days and is believed to have passed peacefully in her sleep overnight on Thursday.

Franklin died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She had suffered health problems for a number of years before her death, though she often refrained from sharing details when pressed.

In 2010, she cancelled concerts to reportedly have a tumour removed and, while the source of the growth was never revealed, Franklin denied at the time that the surgery was to treat pancreatic cancer.

Music legend Aretha Franklin has died at 76.

Music legend Aretha Franklin has died at 76.

Photo: AP
Advertisement
Loading

After numerous more cancellations in the years that followed, Franklin's ailments became more obvious. Frequently asked about the status of her health, she offered only little bits of information, and said that she preferred to keep the details to herself.

Loading

"I'm not one to go into my personal health things," she told Associated Press in 2013.

"My treatments are going very well," she continued. "My last CAT scan, my doctor at the CAT scan and everyone who sees this says that this is miraculous, absolutely miraculous."

"I was talking to Smokey Robinson, my oldest best friend Smokey, talking about the fact that some doctors are not very well acquainted with faith healing. And Smokey said, 'Well, they just don't know who your healer is.'

In this Aug. 30, 1988, photo, Aretha Franklin joined George Michael during his Faith World Tour in Michigan.

In this Aug. 30, 1988, photo, Aretha Franklin joined George Michael during his Faith World Tour in Michigan.

Photo: AP/Rob Kozloff

"Any time you have cancellations you should be concerned. But all prayer is good, and keep me in your prayers until I am 100 per cent, not 85, and back onstage."

In a June 2017 outdoor concert in Detroit, Franklin asked of the audience, "keep me in your prayers". Appearing to have lost a lot of weight, the singer managed a few more shows in the months after that, and performed at a private event for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in November. This performance was to be her last.

News of Franklin's failing health sent social media into a spin on Monday, with a number of high-profile fans such as Bill Clinton and Mariah Carey sending well-wishes to the icon.

Aretha Franklin sang at Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.

Aretha Franklin sang at Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.

Photo: Jason Reed

"Like people all around the world, Hillary and I are thinking about Aretha Franklin tonight and listening to her music that has been such an important part of our lives the last 50 years," wrote Clinton.

"We hope you’ll lift her up by listening and sharing her songs that have meant the most to you."

On Thursday, tributes flowed in from prominent artists around the world.

Franklin was one of the most iconic musicians of all time, having led a generation of fans through the '60s, '70s and '80s with her powerful, anthemic songs of strength and unwavering self-belief.

Her 1967 song Respect demanded common decency be shown to women, and paved the way for celebrity feminism - some 50 years before it manifested with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements of today.

In her lifetime, Franklin recorded 48 studio and live albums and released many more compilations, and received 20 Grammy Awards for her contribution to the music industry.

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and in 2005 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President George W. Bush.

Genevieve Rota is the PM Digital Editor for Entertainment at Fairfax Media.