The “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76. The legendary “Respect” singer had been in hospice care for several days at her home in Detroit after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Franklin died about 9:50 a.m. at her home, publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told The Associated Press. Franklin’s family had asked for prayers on Sunday after it was first reported that she was gravely ill and near death.
“Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit, Quinn told the AP in a statement from Franklin’s family.
“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Franklin’s Battle With Pancreatic Cancer Began in 2010
According to a close family member of hers, Aretha was originally diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Her fans suspected something was happening with her health when she started cancelling shows, but she never disclosed why she was taking time off.
“I am not one to do a lot of talking about my personal health or business,” said Aretha after the news broke.
“I don’t have to talk about my health with anybody other than my doctors.” She claimed the problem had been “resolved.”
According to ABC News, Aretha was hospitalized in October 2011 at Sinai-Grace Hospital in the Motor City. She was ordered by her doctors to cancel shows for six months.
“There are a lot of people who will talk about anything, as long as there is somebody listening,” said Aretha.
She claims she did not have pancreatic cancer, but did confirm to the Rolling Stones that she’d had surgery and that her doctor said it would add 15 to 20 more years to her life.
According to the New York Daily News, Aretha was visited by Rev. Jesse Jackson a day after her procedure.
“She’s doing very well,” Jackson told The Detroit News. “She’s very prayerful. She’s a woman of deep religious faith.”
2. Franlin Told The Associated Press in 2013 That She’d Made a ‘Miraculous Recovery’
By this time, Aretha still hadn’t come forth to confirm cancer rumors, but she did tell the Associated Press back in August 2013 that her treatments were going very well.
“At my last CAT scan, my doctor at the CAT scan and everyone who sees this says that this is miraculous, absolutely miraculous.”
“Any time you have cancellations you should be concerned. But all prayer is good, and keep me in your prayers until I am 100%, not 85, and back onstage,” she said.
Though she never went into detail about her sickness, she did say that it was “very common to women” and that she just had to “deal with it.”
Aretha mentioned it was related to the health rumors that led her to cancel shows between 2011 and 2013.
3. Franklin Retired From Performing Last Year After Her Doctor Told Her to Stop Because of Her Health
Aretha was performing steadily until early last summer when her doctor advised her to stop. She agreed to cancel all her remaining concerts, but kept her show at Philadelphia’s Mann Center for August 2017.
The National Enquirer published reports in May 2017 that Aretha had lost 100 pounds because of a “cancer relapse.”
Tabloids continued to report that her doctors had urged her to start radical chemotherapy treatments, but it required she stay in the hospital. According to The National Enquirer, the 75-year-old icon needed a stomach-stapling surgery to survive.
It was reported that a family friend of hers claimed doctors had to remove half her stomach, the head of her pancreas, part of her bile duct, her gallbladder and her duodenum, but Aretha told US Weekly, “I’ve lost a lot of weight due to side effects of medicine, it affects your weight … Thanks for your concern.”
Essentially it’s been unclear for years what type of sickness had been ailing the Queen.
4. Aretha Made One Last Appearance for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York on November 2, 2017
Fans described her last performance as “miraculous.” Her exhaustion was apparent and her weight loss drastic, but the Queen of Soul sang effortlessly. She’s never missed a note in her life.
Those in the crowd truly took in the moment as if it’d be one of her last, and it was.
“Music is my thing, it’s who I am. I’m in it for the long run,” Aretha told The Associated Press back in 2008. “I’ll be around, singing, ‘What you want, baby I got it.’ Having fun all the way.”
The world mourns:
5. Aretha Made a Final Album: ‘A Brand New Me’
Aretha Franklin is one of greatest voices the world has ever known. “Natural Woman,” “Think,” “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” are among her greatest hits that contributed to her winning 18 Grammy awards.
She was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Very few artists have sold over 75 million records.
When she announced her retirement back in February 2017, Aretha also announced she’d be recording an album.
“A Brand New Me,” was released late 2017.
According to Pop Culture, a film about Aretha’s life is in the works. Rumors are that Jennifer Hudson will play her in the feature.
“The project will be produced by Straight Outta Compton’s Scott Bernstein and Dreamgirls producer Harvey Mason Jr.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced soon.