Aretha Franklin ‘Gravely Ill,’ Surrounded by Family: Report

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Aretha Franklin via her Facebook page in 2014

According to various reports circulating on Sunday night (August 12), soul legend Aretha Franklin, 76, is said to be gravely ill. Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411 was the first to report the news at 10:28 p.m. Eastern, when he wrote that Franklin “is gravely ill in Detroit. The family is asking for prayers and privacy. Aretha is surrounded by family and people close to her.”

Various reports on Monday noted that “death was imminent.”

The legendary Queen of Soul was forced to cancel her April 28 appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival–better known simply as Jazz Fest–when the organizers announced she needed to pull out “on advice of her doctors.”

At the time, Lady Soul’s management, in a statement noted Franklin “has been ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest completely for at least the next two months. She is extremely disappointed she cannot perform at this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival as she had expected and hoped to.”

A performance on her 76th birthday on March 25 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark was also canceled.

Franklin’s place in music history will be assured. Since she first placed a single on the Billboard chart in 1961 (“Won’t Be Long,” on Columbia Records), she’s racked up an amazing 88 chart singles, including, of course, such timeless hits as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” with legendary producer Jerry Wexler for Atlantic Records in the ’60s.

Twenty of her singles topped the R&B chart. The first: 1967’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You”; the last: 1985’s “Freeway of Love.”

Franklin scored 17 Top 10 pop hits, including nine for Atlantic from 1967-1968.

Related: A 1972 “lost” interview with Columbia Records’ talent scout John Hammond on signing Aretha

She’s also had 46 chart albums and has won every conceivable award and honor possible, playing for presidents, winning an armload of Grammys, early induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Watch Franklin perform at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

In 2017, the singer told a Detroit TV station that she would retire from touring that year. Franklin told WDIV-TV, “I must tell you, I am retiring this year. This will be my last year. I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it.”

Speaking of her impending retirement, Franklin said at the time, “I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now. I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.


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  1. Ratbone
    #1 Ratbone 13 August, 2018, 11:30

    Get well Aretha. The world is a better place with you in it.

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