Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Happy Birthday, Aretha Franklin! Forever the Greatest of All Pop and Soul Singers (Opera, Too!)


There are a lot of birthdays on March 25th including Elton John. Happy birthday!

But the one I observe as a national holiday is Aretha Franklin, born this day in 1942. She’d be 82 today. Aretha passed in August 2018.

I spent the evening with Aretha at her penultimate show at the Mann Center in Philadelphia in late summer 2017. She did one more show for Elton John’s AIDS Foundation in November, and that was it.

A movie about Aretha was a bust and so was a miniseries. They didn’t capture her amazing sense of humor and wit. She was so smart about music, politics, civil rights. We talked about a lot of things. She also loved to indulge herself with shopping sprees, fancy dinners, and theater nights. She lived on her own clock and schedule, but who could blame her? She was Aretha Franklin! She knew it, too. Her talent was singular and monumental.

In heaven today, Aretha’s having a grand party — she loved birthday parties. The Temptations and the Four Tops are performing. Mary Wilson is at the main table with Aretha’s sister, Irma and Carolyn. Aretha’s love, Willie Wilkerson, is sitting beside her.

Happy birthday, Aretha!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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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