Friday, July 1, 2022

MUSIC LEGENDS

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Aretha Franklin on fans, marriage, new music, Blues Brothers and Chicago

My first recollection of Aretha Franklin was from The Blues Brothers movie. I heard her music on Oldies 104.3 Chicago growing up. I first saw her in concert in October of 1997 at Eastern Illinois University during parents weekend, I was neither a parent nor student…I drove from Carbondale to see my Queen. I found my way backstage after the concert and was lucky enough to have my photo taken with her (The first of many). One time I was privy to the hotel she was staying at in Chicago, so after the concert I quickly made my over to the hotel and waited in the lobby, a few other fans were waiting as well. 30 minutes later, she arrived surrounded by security…I nervously approached and asked for a photo she said “Of Course, I saw you singing all night in the front row!” A little known fact, Aretha Franklin was ONLY paid in cash due to bad checks back in the day. If you have ever been to an Aretha Franklin concert you noticed she always brought her designer purse with her on stage…that purse was packed with six figures worth of cash. You also knew when the concert was over…if she took her purse with her after singing. I’ve seen her at The Chicago Theater numerous times, Ravinia, Arie Crown, United Center (Oprah’s last show extravaganza) House Of Blues Chicago, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and President Obama’s Inauguration. To me, Aretha Franklin is music perfection. There is no one better. NO ONE.
In 2014 I worked tirelessly with her personal staff and concert promoter to secure a radio interview (WGN AM Chicago) prior to her upcoming concert. I was in Los Angeles on set filming a TBS sitcom when I got the call from the promoter, “Ms Franklin has said yes to your request”. If you don’t know, Aretha Franklin has been known to be the ultimate diva…cancelling concerts because the venue has the air conditioning on (AC is bad for her voice), she has walked off stage due to bad sound and she has at times been very short during interviews. Ive witnessed it, I’ve read about it and I’ve heard stories. I knew this interview was the 1 chance I was going to have to interview her. I prepared for the worst…and ended up having one of the best conversations with her ever.
The news of her passing has crushed me.
The world has lost the most incredible voice ever.

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