Category: natural

Aretha Franklin, “Rock Steady” on The Flip Wil…

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!

Stevie Wonder AND GROVER on Sesame Street! 197…

Stevie Wonder AND GROVER on Sesame Street! 1973, and yet, eternal

Aretha Franklin’s Grammy Award for Best Female…

Aretha Franklin’s Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her 1971 single, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” one of 8 in a row she won from 1968-75, via Billboard

And here’s the performance from that year’s Grammy telecast, which aired March 15, 1972 from New York’s Felt Forum.

Aretha Franklin on Top of the Pops, July 30, 1…

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

He wore Blue Velvet: Jimi Hendrix in the Londo…

He wore Blue Velvet: Jimi Hendrix in the London apartment he sublet from Ringo, by Petra Niemeier.

Jimi Hendrix, Newcastle 1967, by Alec Byrne. N…

Jimi Hendrix, Newcastle 1967, by Alec Byrne. Nice pants, man.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Michael Jackson, 1971: 12 years old and alread…

Michael Jackson, 1971: 12 years old and already just about done with y’all. 

(July 9, on the ABC lot in Burbank filming the Jackson 5 TV special Goin’ Back To Indiana), via harpersbazaar

Jimi Hendrix at the appropriately named Swing …

Jimi Hendrix at the appropriately named Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, CA, June 20, 1970