Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin

Boy, these are getting harder and harder to write. Bowie, Prince, Tom Petty, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, and now Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin.

Let's do one differently.

Instead of telling you how sad I am, very, or how much my brother cried when he heard the news, a lot, let's celebrate her, let me share some memories I have of her.

This picture is from the short lived Joan Rivers Show. Joan, rest her soul, had me and Aretha on  that day. Aretha I could see but me?

So we're talking and Joan says, on live teevee, "Aretha you should date Mark." WHAT? Aretha was very kind and said, in a very nice way, I don't think so.

Me? I just about died.

Just to set the record straight we never dated.

I've written about this before but the first time I met Whitney Houston was at the Grammys. She had won big that year because of, and I'll bet you had this, I Will Always Love You.

We all had it.

As we're getting ready for our interview I tell her Aretha had just been here.  She beamed and said, "Aunt Re Re?"

I thought to myself, "Aunt Re Re."

How cool is it to call Aretha Franklin,"Aunt Re Re?"


This right here is a great tribute.

Great story.

It includes Aretha singing a great opera aria Nessun Dorma. 1998 Grammys, live, and keep in mind she was filling in.

She didn't have all week to rehearse.

It makes me cry.

And yet another Aretha memory.

It was Bill Clinton's inauguration.

I was there to do a piece for 48 Hours on Quincy Jones. As I'm getting closer to the Lincoln Memorial  I hear what sounds like a tape. I turn the corner and Miss Franklin is on the steps, with a mic. She has on a white mink coat and has her handbag under one arm.

And she's singing.

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Find out what it means to me."

I swear this happened.

On her second Respect, she spells it and without missing a beat says, "Hi Mark," and goes right back to "Find out what it means to me."

Ten feet tall, people, I felt ten feet tall.

One last Aretha memory.

I'm at the Kennedy Center Honors. Actually I'm in Aretha's hotel lobby. She was being honored and was supposed to have left for the gala already. But. She was late. Remember, she is a diva. The elevator came down, the doors open and out steps Aretha Franklin.  I had a cameraman with me and by this time I'd interviewed her a couple of times.

"Can I just get a couple of minutes?"

"Sure." Always gracious.

"Tell me about the title Queen of Soul. That's a great name to have."

She looks me straight in the face and and says," Haven't we talked about that enough?"

I agreed,"Yes, we sure have," and asked a different question. You do watchya gotta do.

Miss Aretha y'all.

Will we have a singer like her again? I don't know. It was a different time. Trail blazing times.

I bet you know what a trail blazer is. One who leads the way. I also bet you know what Mount Rushmore is.

Aretha Franklin, the trail blazer, is one of those Mount Rushmore kind of people.

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  1. Mark I have been reading and watching stories about Aretha all week. Yours, my friend, is the most interesting. Well done. Thank you
    R Pinkston.

  2. Great memories, Mark. Thanks for sharing them.