25 March 1942 – 16 August 2018
The music industry supremo who worked with the singer over four decades recalls the Queen of Soul’s vocal genius, humour – and love of fine dining
I’ve never been more grateful for the opportunity to work than with Aretha Franklin. When we first met in the late 1970s, I felt I’d already known her for years. Her Atlantic Records career in the late 1960s, with Jerry Wexler, was just fantastic – so many hits, but more importantly, so many classic songs [including I Say a Little Prayer, Think, Respect]. They had something different about them, and they defined the genre of R&B. By the late 70s, the things Aretha was doing were somewhat trendy, and they failed. She got restless. So she called me up and said: “How about we get together? Come to mine. I’ll cook you dinner.” That’s how she was.