Aretha Franklin, Legendary Queen Of Soul, Dies At 76

Aretha Franklin
Taylor Hill / Getty Images
– Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin performs during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival Opening Gala premiere of “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives” at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City.

American music legend Aretha Franklin has passed away at the age of 76, with her publicist confirming that she died Thursday at her home in Detroit.  Her passing follows a long illness that caused her to cancel concert appearances earlier this year and led to a 2017 announcement that she would cease touring.

Her final concert reported to Pollstar was an event on July 29, 2017 at Filene Center at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., her seventh appearance at the Washington, D.C.-area venue since 1999. Her performance last summer was a sellout with a crowd of 6,970 in attendance.

Pollstar’s archives include a total of 118 performances for “The Queen of Soul” from 1999 through 2017. The total number of tickets sold during that time span was 396,917 with an overall gross of $23.6 million.

ICM Partners’ Scott Pang, who represented Franklin, told Pollstar: “Her career speaks for itself. Legend.”

Please see: Tributes Pour In For Aretha Franklin, The Queen Of Soul

Her final performance was for the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala at the Church of St. John the Divine in New York City on Nov. 7.

Franklin, who began singing gospel music at her church during childhood, launched her six-decade career in her late teens and went on to achieve success with classic hits like “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools” and “I Say A Little Prayer” among many others.

Her awards and achievements were numerous and included such highlights as being the first woman to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She was also a Kennedy Center honoree in 1994 and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, named by President George W. Bush. She won 18 Grammy Awards – most recently in 2008 – as well as the Grammy Legend Award (1991) and Lifetime Achievement Award (1994).

Aretha Franklin
Andy Kropa / Invision / AP
– Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin performs for Elton John AIDS Foundation 25th Anniversary Gala at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC Nov. 7.

The box office reports, honors and record sales only scratch the surface of Franklin’s influence and cultural impact. From her gospel roots, beginning in her father Rev. C.L. Franklin’s Detroit church, through her 2014 release Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics, her soaring voice and regal demeanor defined her as a singular artist who was one of the defining musical figures of the 1960s, ‘70s and beyond.

Franklin sang “My Country Tis Of Thee” at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, but perhaps her most unforgettable performance came during the 1998 Grammy Awards, when she stepped in at the last moment to perform Puccini’s classic “Turandot” aria, “Nessum dora” in the stead of an ailing Luciano Pavarotti.  Of course, she nailed it.

She was equally adept at less-highbrow appearances, thoroughly stealing a scene from John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in 1980’s “The Blues Brothers” movie with one of her signature hits, “Think.”

Franklin’s health took a turn in 2010 but, after surgery, she returned to performing the following year.  At the time she spoke with Pollstar about her upcoming plans and the outpouring of love from fans she’d received.

“People are still beautiful,” she told Pollstar in April 2011. “They’re still expressing to me that they prayed for me on different occasions and it’s really just wonderful to hear that, to know that people can be that beautiful. These are people who really don’t even know you, that you don’t know, who’ve said a prayer for me. You just can’t beat that! I’ts really great, really touching.”