The world of music lost one of its greatest voices on Thursday, when the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, died at the age of 76 after a bout with pancreatic cancer. Despite being in failing health, she continued performing until late last year, when she performed a benefit show for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in November. Keeping this in mind, John took to social media on Thursday morning to remember his longtime friend and fellow musical legend.
In a post shared on Instagram and Twitter, John said that Aretha Franklin’s death was a blow for “everybody who loves real music,” as she drew inspiration not only from her heart and soul, but also from her background as a gospel singer in church. He also recognized her ability as an “underrated” piano player who nonetheless stood out for her “unique” voice.
Elton John then went on to recall Franklin’s final performance in November, a benefit concert that took place at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City. According to Page Six, the show was a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Sir Elton’s AIDS foundation that also featured musical performances from the likes of Billy Joel, Sting, Sheryl Crow, and Maxwell.
“She was obviously unwell, and I wasn’t sure she could perform,” John recalled,
“But Aretha did and she raised the roof. She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time.”
The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists. I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance – a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation at St John The Divine Cathedral. She was obviously unwell, and I wasn’t sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof. She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends. We shared the same birthday – and that meant so much to me. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. @arethasings #RIP #ArethaFranklin #QueenOfSoul @ejaf
In addition to recalling how he “adored and worshipped” Franklin as an iconic singer, Elton John noted how he and the Queen of Soul shared the same birthday, which he said “meant so much” to him.
“The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.”
As further recalled by Page Six, Aretha Franklin’s performance for the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 25th anniversary closed the three-hour-plus show, as she performed some of her most memorable recordings, including “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Freeway.” As she was planning to retire as a live performer after 2017, that marked her last ever performance at a live concert. She was, however, booked to perform a 76th birthday show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on March 25, and a headlining gig at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 28, only for both shows to be canceled on doctor’s orders, according to USA Today.