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Aretha Franklin remembered as ‘dear, dear friend’ by music industry greats

With her place as a hit-making force cemented decades ago, music industry greats stepped up to remember Aretha Franklin on Thursday after her death.

Some, such as Clive Davis, said their relationship went beyond business — to friendship.

“She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world,” said Davis, chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment, said in a statement. “Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend. Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness.”

OBITUARY: Aretha Franklin, Who Defined an Era as the Queen of Soul, Dies at 76

Davis said he was “absolutely devastated” by her death. According to a statement by Franklin’s family, the singer had pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

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“The passing of Aretha Franklin is seismic,” said Ken Ehrlich, longtime executive producer of the Grammy Awards broadcast, in a statement. “Virtually every great singing voice, male or female, from 1966 on, has taken a little or a lot from the Queen of Soul. Without Aretha, there would not be an Adele, a Beyoncé, a JHud [Jennifer Hudson], a Bono, a George Michael or any of the hundreds of other great artists who aspire to emulate her.

“Her instrument, her phrasing, her ability to sing in front of, on, or behind the beat has been a living tutorial to successive generations,” Ehrlich added.

Motown founder Berry Gordy remembered her as his “dear, dear friend, my homegirl, and I loved her a lot.” They shared memories of Motown, life “and just things,” he said. Though she never signed with his label, he said she was considered a part of his family.

“From seeing her as a baby singing and playing at the piano at her father’s home, to her giving a rousing performance at the White House, she has always been amazing. No matter how the music has changed over the years, she remained so relevant.”

APPRECIATION: Aretha Franklin was the Queen of Soul and mastered the viral video, just by being Aretha

Franklin’s passing was “not only a tremendous personal loss for me, but for people all over the world who were touched by her incredible gift and remarkable spirit.”

Quincy Jones, producer and musician, shared his memories on various social-media platforms.

“From the time that Dinah Washington first told me that Aretha was the ‘next one’ when she was 12-years old, until the present day, Aretha Franklin set the bar upon which every female singer has been & will be measured. And she did it with the professionalism, class, grace, & humility that only a true Queen could,” he said on Instagram.

“I treasured every moment that we spent together from working in the recording studio, to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or simply hangin’ in the kitchen, & I will miss her dearly,” Jones tweeted.

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, noted in a statement on Twitter that Franklin had been nominated for 44 Grammy Awards and won 18 times. She received the academy’s Legend Award in 1991, its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and was named the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year, he pointed out.

“[S]he inspired countless musicians and fans, and created a legacy that paved the way for a long line of strong female artists,” Sony Music’s Legacy label tweeted.

The Apollo Theater acknowledged her death, as did the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which reminded people that in 1987, for its second class of inductees, the Queen of Soul broke ground as the first woman to join its ranks.

“Lady Soul ... Aretha Franklin was an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music,” rock hall president and chief exec Greg Harris said in a statement. “Long live the Queen.”

Franklin played at the Apollo in the 1960s, and by the time the ’70s rolled around her shows there were “major events,” per the theater’s website.

It was then that the Apollo’s marquee read, “She’s home.”

And in his remembrance, Grammys exec producer Ehrlich also gave a nod to a gospel great and to Franklin’s family members who died before her.

“Aretha, My bet is that God can’t wait for you to arrive and sing ‘Amazing Grace’ as you did on your unforgettable gospel album of the same name,” he said. “And to be joined by sisters Erma, Carolyn, brother Cecil, your father Reverend C.L. and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Mahalia [Jackson] was at their side to welcome you.”

cdz@latimes.com

@theCDZ on Twitter and Instagram


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