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Aretha Took Her Bow on Anniversary of King of Rock 'n' Roll's Death

Aretha Took Her Bow  on Anniversary of King of Rock 'n' Roll's Death
People gather near a makeshift memorial at the nameplate for singer Aretha Franklin outside the Apollo Theater Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, in New York. The singer died Thursday in her home in Detroit at age 76 from pancreatic cancer. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

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Friday, 17 August 2018 11:10 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As tributes for legendary singer Aretha Franklin poured into her Detroit home yesterday from around the world, it didn’t take long for many music fans to realize that the Queen of Soul had died on the anniversary of the death of the king of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley.

While those of us who cherished Aretha for the numerous contributions she made to the soundtrack of our lives were deeply saddened to hear of her passing, this writer can’t help but think that if she had to go, why shouldn’t it be on a day that will now be forever remembered as the closing act for two of music’s most regal performers?

Perhaps it’s because I used to live in Detroit, not far from where Aretha still lived after becoming an American icon, and also because I just happen to also be a huge fan of Elvis, that I began thinking about some of the other things these two legends had in common.

So, why not take some time today or over the weekend to give yourself a gift by putting your feet up and listening to two of the greatest recordings ever produced, the cover of "Amazing Grace" by Aretha Franklin, and the cover of the same song by Elvis Presley. As their powerful renditions of this timeless classic warm your soul, think about the following amazing coincidences that link Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley:

Music Royalty

Both of these singers reached the apex of the music world and were crowned by their fans as royalty. Aretha, known as the queen of soul, and Elvis, the king of rock 'n' roll, will forever rule our hearts.

The Most Hits

These two prolific vocalists created hits like no other artists before or since. Over her career, Aretha had 112 singles on the Billboard charts, the most hits of any female artist in history. Elvis is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Aretha was bestowed the honor of being the first woman elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Elvis was enshrined in the hall just a year before her, as part of the first class of artists elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Glorious Gospel

Aretha and Elvis were both enormously successful gospel singers. Aretha’s father was a pastor in Detroit, and she recorded her first album of gospel music at the tender age of 14. Elvis recorded a number of popular gospel albums and was the last rock 'n' roll artist to make gospel a vital part of his musical personality.

Pink Cadillacs

True fans know that one of Aretha’s biggest hits was the song "Freeway of Love," from the album "Who's Zoomin' Who?" in which she sang about riding in a pink Cadillac, probably taking Detroit’s Woodward Avenue to that lyrical freeway. Elvis loved Cadillacs and famously owned two pink ones that he drove with great pride around Memphis.

First Name Basis

Both artists are among a select few people who are known to hundreds of millions of fans around the world simply by their first names.

Aretha and Elvis. The queen and the king.

Both icons loved America, each coming from humble circumstances to reach epic success. Both represented the amazing capacity of America as a land of opportunity, enabling anyone with enough talent and ambition to rise from poverty to prominence — and beating back the idea heard too often these days that class, background and race are characteristics that cripple your chances in America.

Not true.

And perhaps most telling about both stars, particularly Aretha, is that the music she produced during periods of great social and political turmoil in America cut through those perceived barriers and was embraced by Americans of all persuasions and backgrounds. This may be her most lasting gift to us.

Now, as I look out on the morning rain, I want to thank Aretha for inspiring so many of us with her beautiful voice and her regal grace over an unparalleled career, and for helping us find the natural beauty in her timeless music.

Bob Dorigo Jones is senior fellow at the Center for America, creator of the annual Wacky Warning Labels™ Contest, and the bestselling author of "Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever." His weekly radio commentary, "Let’s Be Fair!" airs on radio stations across the U.S. To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.

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BobDorigoJones
As I look out on the morning rain, I want to thank Aretha for inspiring so many of us with her beautiful voice and her regal grace over an unparalleled career, and for helping us find the natural beauty in her timeless music.
billboard, detroit, elvis, franklin, presley
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2018-10-17
Friday, 17 August 2018 11:10 AM
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