August 16th is definitely not a happy day for music. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, left us at age 76 after losing a battle that had been waging against cancer in recent years.
That same day, in 1977, we also lost a great name, this time a King, since Elvis Presley died early on August 16 of that year, at age 42, due to a heart attack.
Turning still further in time, it was also on August 16, 1938, that the legendary Robert Johnson passed away at the age of 27 with very little success, unaware that decades later he would become one of the most influential blues and rock names and roll, being celebrated by guitarists like Eric Clapton.
Finally, actor Bela Lugosi, famous for playing Dracula, died on August 16, 1956.
Queen of soul history
Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25, 1942.
She recorded her first records at age 14 at her father’s church, Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, a Baptist pastor.
It began as a teenage gospel star, but in less than a decade it became a big name for American R & B, rhythm and blues that emerged in the 1940s with influences such as jazz and church choirs.
The 76-year-old “queen of soul” became famous with “Respect” (1967), her only song to top the top US hit chart.
The song sums up Aretha’s power. Composed and originally recorded by Ottis Redding, soul idol, the singer accelerated the arrangement, added supporting vocals and the famous part in which he spelled “R-e-s-p-e-c-t”.
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