Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Aretha Franklin Almost Had the Hit “Upside Down” in 1980, Before Diana Ross


Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, didn’t think he’d be stuck in Albany on the night of his big fundraiser in the Plaza Hotel ballroom. But you know, all that rent stuff, and other matters, meant he and the legislators were not leaving the capital.

To the rescue: Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, resplendent in a silvery super hero gown with cape. And she was like Wonder Woman, singing a few songs in exceptionally fine voice– the classic “Spring is Here,” (from offstage, and the audience was wowed), her own “Chain of Fools,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Aretha saved the day!

She did something for the Cuomo faithful that was so brilliant they almost didn’t deserve it– Aretha sat down at the shiny black shellacked baby grand piano in the Plaza ballroom and accompanied herself on “My Cup Runneth Over.” (She is a naturally gifted intuitive keyboardist who still takes lessons.) The acoustics were amazing, plus Aretha brought in a sound guy. The result was something beyond magic. She should really do a whole album like that, live and unadorned. The audience went crazy.

Afterwards, Aretha and co. headed off to her favorite spot, the Ritz Carlton bar lobby, where the staff whipped her up all kinds of delicacies. For fun, Aretha surprise-called producer Nile Rodgers to reminisce about how she turned down the song “Upside Down,” which went to Diana Ross.

“I didn’t like his presentation,” Aretha said, laughing about it now. “They wanted me to just sing it. I wanted to study it. I could have had a big number 1 hit, but I threw them [Rodgers and Bernard Edwards] outta my house!”

Luckily, she had a lot of other hits anyway.

PS The big white bandage on her arm? I’m told she got a second degree burn from steaming one of her gowns. Why she was steaming her own gown is beyond me, but Aretha likes to do-it-for-herself, like the song says.


photo c2015 Showbiz411.com

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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