Category: aretha franklin

Aretha Franklin, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, via rockhall.org

Aretha Franklin at a press conference, March 26, 1973, via theatlantic

Aretha Franklin, 1968, by Don Hunstein

Aretha Franklin in her dressing room at Newark Symphony Hall, 1969, by Walter Iooss Jr.

Aretha, backstage at Fillmore West, February 1971, by Jim Marshall

Aretha Franklin, “Rock Steady” on The Flip Wilson Show, aired January 20, 1972. 

Released as a single in February 1971, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the Soul Singles chart, this Aretha-penned track gets a blazing new life just 4 days before the release of the astounding Young, Gifted and Black LP. Not only have you never heard this song like this before, you may never have heard Aretha like this before: pedal to the metal and soaring, even by her own elevated standards. 

It’s also inspiring to see the Queen of Soul, “Natural Woman” resplendent in natural hair and an African-inspired gown in this pivotal TV appearance, as detailed in Rickey Vincent’s Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. 

Aretha herself said, “I believe that the black revolution certainly forced me and the majority of black people to begin taking a second look at ourselves. It wasn’t that we were all ashamed of our ourselves, we merely started appreciating our natural selves…you know, falling in love with ourselves just as we are. We found that we had far more to be proud of.

“I must say that mine was a very personal evolution – an evolution of the me in myself. […] I know I’ve improved my overall look and sound, they’re much better. And I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in myself.” 

(More here, although note that Vincent is off on the date of this broadcast, which I verified here. A great read nonetheless.)

This is the sound of Aretha’s newfound confidence, my friends, with one of 1971′s greatest singles taken to new heights. “Rock steady, baby – that’s what I feel now. Let’s call this song exactly what it is!” 

TURN IT UP!

Aretha Franklin and Dr. John, 1971, via Dr. John’s Facebook page.

The Doctor guested on a couple of Aretha’s 1971 singles, notably playing percussion on “Rock Steady” (released in February; I wrote about that here), and playing keyboards on Aretha’s cover of “Spanish Harlem”, a July 1971 single that became the opening track of Aretha’s Greatest Hits, released that September. It

spent three weeks at #1 on the US soul charts and two weeks at #2 on the Pop chart on the way to selling over 1 million copies.

(btw, the b-side referenced here, “Lean On Me”, isn’t a cover of the song that Bill Withers hadn’t written yet, of course, but rather the 1970 Vivian Reed original, a fantastic track, one of Aretha’s most powerful performances – but no Dr. John means that I’ll save it for another day.)

Aretha Franklin, my edit of original by Hank Parker via cbsnews

Joey Ramone, “Punk Haircuts Any Style, $2.75.” (With Aretha Franklin on the cover of Long Island Pulse magazine!)

Aretha Franklin on Top of the Pops, July 30, 1970, by Ron Howard