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The singer that Keith Richards said is the best of all time

Keith Richards


The singer that Keith Richards said is the best of all time

In the music business since the early 60s, the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was lucky enough to have seen the evolution of music up-close over the decades. He became one of the most influential guitarists that ever existed and helped the band to become one of the best-selling of all time with an estimated amount of more than 200 million records sold worldwide.


Even though fans might see The Rolling Stones essentially as a Rock and Roll band, they are heavily influenced by Blues and R&B. Richards loves those two music genres and when he made his list of the greatest singers of all time, he placed in the first position a vocalist that made history with that kind of music.

The singer that Keith Richards said is the best of all time

Back in 2008, Keith Richards was asked by Rolling Stone to make a list of the best singers of all time. He placed in the first position the late legendary singer Aretha Franklin. For him, she was better than names like Elvis Presley, Ronnie Spector, Otis Redding, Sam Coome and Jimmy Cliff, who were also names he picked. Even though Richards also placed himself on the twentieth position, he didn’t metioned his bandmate Mick Jagger on the list.

Richards was lucky enough to have recorded and produced Aretha in the 80s, when she covered the Rolling Stones classic song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. But he said he would only record with her if she sang and played the piano. He recalled that in interview in 1989, featured on the book “Keith Richards on Keith Richards: Interviews & Encounters“.

He only accepted to record with her if she sang and played the piano

“If you can get her to play piano and sing at the same time, you get this extra kick. When I worked with her on the ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ video, I told her I’d appear. But only if she played piano and sang. She said, ‘Nobody’s asked me to do that for ages’. Then she said she couldn’t fly anywhere because her fear is too great. I said, ‘That’s OK, you play piano and I’ll bring the band to Detroit. I’ll do it there so this was a 50-50 deal,’” Keith Richards said.

The version was released on her 1986 album “Aretha”.  The cover track had the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and the drummer Steve Jordan. He curiously became a member of the Stones in 2021 after Charlie Watts passed away.

Another curious fact about that album is that some songs were produced by the George Young. He was the older brother of AC/DC’s Angus and Malcolm Young.

The version peformed well on the charts at the time it was released. It reached the position number 21 on the United States Billboard Hot 100.

Keith inducted Aretha into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was created in 1983 by Ahmet Ertegun, the chairman and founder of Atlantic Records. The first induction ceremony happened in 1986 and Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

She was inducted in 1987 by Keith Richards, who said in his small speech (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) “The dictionary has been used up. There’s no superlatives left. There’s nothing to read. Anyway, you know, what can I say about Aretha? You’re in, baby! (laughs)” Keith Richard said.

Aretha Franklin started her musical career in 1954 and recorded 38 studio albums, 6 live records and released 131 singles. Nicknamed “The Queen of Soul”, she was one of the best-selling artists of all time. She had sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

She died back in 2018 at the age of 76 after a battle against pancreatice cancer. At the time, Keith reacted on his social networks, saying: “It’s a sad day but what a glorious lady. Her voice says it all!”

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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