Bill Cosby is remembering Aretha Franklin, and getting backlash in the process. The disgraced Cosby Show star, who was recently convicted on three counts of aggravated sexual assault and is currently out on bond awaiting sentencing, posted a tribute to the late Queen of Soul on Twitter and Facebook after her death last week. But some fans took issue with the comedian’s post—and the fact that he was able to post at all.
Cosby, who performed at the MusiCares Person of the Year dinner honoring the R&B legend in 2008, paid tribute to Franklin by remembering her work on his NBC sitcom, A Different World.
“Aretha Franklin – I want to thank her for her wonderful voice singing the theme song of A Different World,” Bill Cosby tweeted to his 3.5 million followers.
“She made a big, strong positive impact on that series. I am playing a cut from her CD — the title of the song is ‘Wholy Holy’ — and she’s live in a church. Bon Voyage.”
Bill Cosby’s post about Aretha Franklin immediately sparked backlash, with some saying Cosby made the tribute to Aretha all about him and others wondering how the 81-year-old comic was tweeting at all.
“When are you reporting to prison?” comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted in response to Cosby’s post.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in jail?” another person wrote, will another added, “Will they allow you to have music in prison?”
One follower went so far as to distastefully change the title of Franklin’s biggest hit, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” to “R-A-P-E-D” in reference to Cosby, while another commented, “Cosby loves a woman who can’t fight back!”
A Different World, a Cosby Show spinoff which followed Cosby kid Denise Huxtable to college, ran for six seasons, from 1987 to 1993. While the first season’s theme song was performed by Phoebe Snow and the final season by Boys II Men and Terrence Forsythe, Aretha Franklin sang the theme song for Seasons 2 through 5. Franklin had a personal connection to A Different World, as her ex-husband, Glynn Turman, played Colonel Bradford Taylor on the show.
But in the aftermath of Cosby’s sexual assault conviction in the Andrea Constand case and allegations that he drugged and molested dozens of other women, some found it odd that the fallen comedy star would pay tribute to Franklin by posting about his TV show—especially since the original star of the show has also distanced herself from him.
In an interview with Net-a-Porter magazine earlier this year, Lisa Bonet said that while she didn’t personally witness any inappropriate behavior by Cosby on the set of A Different World, she always sensed “darkness.”
“There was just energy. And that type of sinister, shadow energy cannot be concealed,” she said.
You can hear Aretha Franklin singing the theme song to A Different World in the video below.