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From Lionel to Celine to Elton, tributes roll in for Aretha Franklin

Updated August 16, 2018 - 3:09 pm

During his show Wednesday night at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Lionel Richie shared his personal relationship with Aretha Franklin.

Richie said that we all knew Franklin as an entertainment legend, but added, “I knew her as the best collard-greens cook I ever met in my life. She had a way of saying, ‘Baby, you just come by the house, and I’ll feed you,’ ” Richie said as the audience laughed and clapped. “Well, I want you to know that tonight she’s in a transition, and I’m putting my heart and prayers out to her.”

Franklin died hours later, this morning, of pancreatic cancer. She was 76. Richie’s statement after Franklin’s death was announced: “Her voice; her presence; her style. No one did it better. Truly the Queen of Soul. I will miss you!”

Tributes rolled in for the woman rightfully dubbed the Queen of Soul, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, whose career spanned six decades. Messages from social media and elsewhere today:

From Colosseum at Caesars Palace headliner Celine Dion, who posted a photo of the two onstage together: “I’m saddened to learn that Aretha Franklin has passed.The most soulful and inspirational singer of our time.” Dion also issued a statement via e-mail, saying: “She was an unbelievable artist … there will never be anyone like her. I had the great privilege of performing with Aretha … it was truly one of the greatest moments of my career. I send my prayers and condolences to her family and loved ones.

From Westgate Las Vegas headliner Barry Manilow: “She was a friend. She was the greatest. This is a heartbreaking day.”

From Elton John:”The loss of @ArethaFranklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists.” John also remembered Franklin’s final public appearance, at Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in November. ” I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance – a benefit for @ejaf at St John The Divine Cathedral. She was obviously unwell, and I wasn’t sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof.”

From Barbra Streisand, who also posted a photo of her with Franklin at a tribue for Marvin Hamlisch in 2012. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer,but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.”

From legendary producer Quincy Jones: “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 hanging in the kitchen, and I will miss her dearly,” Jones, who co-produced Franklin’s 1973 album “Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), added. “R.I.P. Ree-Ree. You will reign as the Queen forever.”

From Smokey Robinson: “This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our Father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace. #QueenOfSoul.”

From Paul McCartney: “Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever.”

From the Rolling Stones: “Very sad to hear the news about Aretha, she was so inspiring and wherever you were she always brought you to church.”

From Carole King: “What a life. What a legacy! So much love, respect and gratitude. R.I.P. @ArethaFranklin.”

From Diana Ross: I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.

From Tony Bennett, with a photo of the two together onstage: “It was a double thrill for me to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera on my 85th birthday and have the Queen of Soul (and heart) Aretha Franklin singing with me….she will be missed by the world.”

From Rod Stewart: “Always loved you, always will @ArethaFranklin. Not only the Queen of Soul but the queen of all our hearts. – Sir Rod xxx.”

From Billy Joel: “We have lost the greatest singer of our time. As a songwriter, I know personally how meaningful a gifted interpreter of material can be. No one can replace her.”

From Missy Elliott: Rest easy #ARETHAFRANKLIN I imagine u in heaven performing & still making people souls move. This was my aunt favorite record #RockSteady you will always be the Queen of Soul you been that before many of us were born! Thank you for giving us LEGENDARY TIMELESS music.”

From John Legend: “Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known.”

From Lenny Kravitz: “The Queen of Soul has left this earth to sit on her throne in heaven. How blessed we were to hear the best that God had to offer in her voice. RESPECT!”

From Justin Timberlake, with a photo of him smiling and singing with Franklin: “This is the face of a young man who couldn’t believe he was actually singing with the GREATEST OF ALL TIME. Thank you, Ms. Franklin for blessing us with your incomparable gift. Honored to have shared the stage with you even for a moment. Always bowing down to you. #QueenofSoul.”

From Christina Aguilera: “Aretha was such a timeless inspiration to me and so many others, the ultimate queen, thank you for the gift of your voice, music and unshakeable soul.”

From Britney Spears: “The world lost an incredibly talented woman today. Rest In Peace, @ArethaFranklin… your legacy and music will forever inspire us and future generations.”

From Gladys Knight: “Aretha, your music set a standard for every single lady in the industry to rise to. You have touched minds, hearts and spirits, including my own. I pray you have a smooth journey Ree Ree and hopefully I’ll get to sing with you in the Heavenly choir. Love you #QueenofSoul”

From Westgate Las Vegas headliner George Wallace: “Sending all the love I’ve got to give to the Queen of Soul. That crown will be yours forever.” Wallace’s post was from Wednesday. He included an undated photo of he and Franklin at Flamingo Las Vegas, where he headlined for a decade ending in April 2014.

From legendary record producer Clive Davis: “I’m absolutely devastated by Aretha’s passing. 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.”

From Willie Nelson: “Whether it was Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Pop,or Civil Rights, Aretha Franklin was the greatest gift and the voice of a generation. She could turn any song into a hymn. She will be greatly missed here on earth, but that band in heaven just got our Angel. Rest in peace, Aretha.”

From Ricky Martin: “No one like her. So important to music, culture, civil rights. THE QUEEN OF SOUL.”

Also, the long-running Strip production “Legends in Concert,” which featured a tribute to Franklin from February through June at Flamingo Las Vegas. From the producers: “Tributes to Aretha Franklin and her incredible music have often been part of ‘Legends in Concert’ productions in Las Vegas and around the world for many years. We will continue to honor the great legacy of the Queen of Soul and her many legendary songs.”

Cynthia Minx, who portrayed Franklin this year in the show, said, “It’s a complete honor to portray The Queen Of Soul. She’s given of her talent, and in order to do that she also had to give of her spirit and soul … Personally thanking you, Ms. Franklin, for blessing us all with your God-given talent.” Franklin will return to the show at Flamingo in November in its annual holiday productions.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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