The gravely ill singer spent her final days in the company of friends and loved ones.
Aretha Franklin was surrounded by her loved ones when she died earlier this week, and several of her famous friends were among the last to see her alive. The Queen of Soul passed away on August 16 her Detroit home at age 76 following a battle with cancer, the same day that Elvis Presley died in 1977.
Aretha’s nephew Tim Franklin said that the music icon was “alert, talking, laughing, joking” as friends and relatives “tried to keep her spirits up” over the weekend before she passed, according to The Guardian.
In addition to her relatives and ex-husband Glynn Turman, who was married to the Queen of Soul from 1978 to 198, Franklin’s longtime friends Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson were among those to visit the gravely ill soul singer as she received hospice care in her final days. Wonder visited Franklin on Tuesday and Jackson was by her bedside on Wednesday, the day before her death, People magazine confirmed.
Fans may recall that Aretha Franklin recorded a cover of Stevie Wonder’s song “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” back in 1973.
After Aretha Franklin’s death was announced, the Rev. Jesse Jackson took to Twitter to post a photo of the singer, captioning it with, “A lot of music left the earth today. The Heavens rejoice. Rest in heavenly peace. #ArethaFranklin #ISayALittlePrayer.”
In an interview posted by WWJ News Radio WWJ News Radio, Jackson who held hands with the R&B star and prayed with her in the hours before her death, recalled his long friendship with Franklin.
“Aretha, it was not like her not to call at 1 o’clock in the morning and talk til 6 a.m., you know; those midnight telephone conversations.”
Jackson also said Franklin will be remembered for much more than her angelic voice.
“Her last concert, you know, was with Elton John for the victims of AIDS. I mean, if she had to choose how she would go out, she went out serving. She was a singer servant…She cared and she shared… She never gave up, she was a fighter…she was a caretaker for her family. She would sponsor a revival at her church, New Bethel every year, and her Christmas party here in Detroit. She never left the pulpit, she never left Detroit, she never left her family…so Aretha belongs to all of us.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Franklin’s publicist confirmed that the music legend died from “advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.” The Franklin family also issued a statement on the loss of their beloved matriarch.
“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. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”
Aretha Franklin shot to fame in the 1960s with the hits “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and more. The legendary singer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
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