Aretha Franklin—the legendary 'Queen of Soul'—has died at the age of 76. The hugely influential singer had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, according to her publicist.
“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart," Franklin's family said in a statement. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world," the statement continues. "Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Franklin's timeless mid-Sixties hits—"Respect," “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” "Think" and “Chain of Fools,” among others—helped cement her status as one of the most celebrated, influential and commercially successful vocalists in the history of popular music. She was the first female artist to be admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and had 88 Billboard chart hits during the rock era, more than any other female vocalist.
Franklin's music also helped serve as a springboard for a number of young guitarists who later became legends themselves. A then-22-year-old Eric Clapton played on her stunning 1967 track, “Good to Me As I Am to You,” while a young Duane Allman famously lent his talents to a number of Franklin recordings in the late Sixties.
In her later career, Franklin sang at the inaugurations of three United States presidents, appeared—in a truly legendary cameo—in The Blues Brothers and collaborated with leading pop artists of the day, all the while continuing to produce hits and receive accolades (she won 18 Grammy Awards during her lifetime.)
You can get a glimpse of Franklin at her best in the clips below.