Donald Trump & Aretha Franklin at Grand Opening of Trump Tower

Donald Trump & Aretha Franklin

Getty Donald Trump & Aretha Franklin go back decades, when Franklin performed a concert at the opening of Trump Tower.

Donald Trump and “Queen of Soul” superstar Aretha Franklin have known each other for several decades, as shown by pictures of the grand opening of Trump International Hotel and Tower in 1997.

The legendary singer passed away at age 76 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. She died in hospice care in Detroit Thursday morning.

President Trump mourned her passing on Twitter, claiming she was a “great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice.”


Donald Trump Had Franklin Perform at a Private Concert During the Opening of Trump Tower in 1997

According to an archived article by the New York Times in 1997, Franklin put on a private concert at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater before the grand opening of Trump Tower. A picture was snapped of the two together – a smiling, much younger Trump with his arm around Franklin, who sported a pink silk gown for the occasion.

He can be seen in another picture holding a $50,000 check with Franklin by his side. He had presented the check to Beverly Sills and Nathan Leventhal for the Lincoln Center Consolidated Corporate Fund, according to the New York Times.

He took the New York Times reporter on a tour of the brand new hotel, eager to show off his humble abode. It was a black-tie affair to celebrate the official  opening of Trump Hotel and Tower at 1 Central Park West – the 52-story former Gulf and Western Building redesigned by Philip Johnson and tinted with an “indefinable metallic hue.”

”This is the most successful condominium tower ever built in the United States, did you hear me say that earlier?” Mr. Trump asked. ”People really like it. It has the intimacy and privacy celebrities really want. It’s new, beautiful, bright, expensive, rich. Very 90’s. Everybody wants to be here.”


Although She Did Not Sing at Trump’s Inauguration, Franklin Performed for Several Previous Presidents Before Trump

Franklin sang at the inaugurations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Former President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her impact on America’s cultural landscape in 2005.

“Her instantly recognizable voice has captivated listeners ever since she toured with her father’s gospel revue in the 1950s,” Bush said at the time. “She is among our Nation’s greatest musical artists and has captured the hearts of millions of Americans.”

Franklin died about 9:50 a.m. at her home, publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told The Associated Press. News that Franklin had fallen ill spread like wildfire last Sunday, after it was first reported that she was gravely ill and near death.

Quinn told The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin passed Thursday morning. The statement said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute.”

Celebrities Pay Tribute to Aretha Franklin

GettyCelebrities pay tribute to Aretha Franklin on Twitter

The family added: “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. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”

Franklin, an 18-time Grammy winner, sold more than 75 million album copies during her career. She is known for top hits including “Respect,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Think” and “Chain of Fools.”