“She saw Barbra Streisand as competition. She had the same reaction to Diana Ross when Ross played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. She was feeling outdone by these other women.”
Following the release of her latest studio album ‘Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics’, ‘Soul Sister’ Aretha Franklin has seen her name pulled through the mire by a book penned by a writer charged with writing her autobiography fifteen years ago.
Alas, if claims made by Mr. David Ritz are to be believed today, that version of her story was nothing more than a fluff piece, built to mask the mess his new book ‘RESPECT’ claims Ms. Franklin has attempted to conceal for decades.
A tale of love, sex and malice below…
Excerpts from the Daily Mail’s ‘The Secret life of Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, Laid Bare’ read:
She fabricated stories about mystery lovers and released those stories to the press just to keep her name in print.
And perhaps most complicatedly of all, she came from a home where her father was a promiscuous gospel preacher whose church was a front for orgies which Ray Charles was to describe as a ‘sex circus’.
‘When it came to pure heart singing, they were mother*****s,’ he said.
‘When it came to pure sex, they were wilder than me – and that’s saying something. In those days I had a thing for orgies, but I had to be the only cat in the room with two or three chicks.
‘The gospel people didn’t think that way. The cats liked it with the cats and the chicks liked it with the chicks and no one minded mixing it up this way or that.
Two months before turning thirteen, she gave birth to a baby boy she named Clarence, after her dad.
Rumors swirled that her own father was the father of her first child but it was Donald Burk, a guy she knew from school.
Aretha had a second child before she was fifteen by Edward Jordan, described by her brother as just a player. Both children would take the last name of Franklin and be raised in the Franklin home.
Aretha was driven into the arms of multiple lovers not only by the Holy Ghost music making/sex scene but also by her insecurities after her own mother, Barbara Siggers left C.L. because of his promiscuity and moved back to Memphis in 1948.
The poignancy of that event, as well as C.L.’s many women who followed Siggers’ exit, impacted Aretha more than it did her sisters, Erma and Carolyn.
She never accepted the loss of her mother and mother figures and began idealizing the relationship of her own father and mother as being perfect.
She tried to bury rumors about going crazy and having breakdowns by using Jet Magazine to clean up her image, something she had done for decades.
She was able to kick alcohol in the Seventies – and has never gone back to it – but not her food addiction. Sugar, bread and fried chicken were high on her ‘eat more’ list and she did. ‘Girlfriend was fat!’ stated Ruth Bowen, her booking agent.
Her other weakness was her ego: Aretha became so jealous when Roberta Flack and soul singer Donny Hathaway sang duets together, she fumed about being on the same record label with Flack.
She saw Barbra Streisand as competition. She had the same reaction to Diana Ross when Ross played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. She was feeling outdone by these other women.
Aretha was infuriated when Natalie Cole became a star in 1975 ending Aretha’s eight-year Grammy streak and winning best female rhythm-and blue vocal performance with This Will Be (an Everlasting Love).But it was females period that Aretha didn’t like. She couldn’t maintain a relationship with another woman and cut off any possible friendship, immediately putting them on her ‘s*** list’.Aretha was convinced that Mavis Staples, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross were all after her throne.
When, in 1987, Anita Baker beat out Aretha for best R&B vocal performance for ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ that set off Aretha.
In 1989 Aretha sang a duet with Whitney Houston (It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be) that didn’t sell well. Whitney’s side of the story was Aretha ‘entered the studio as Queen Aretha, the original diva’.
Whitney was the biggest music star in the world at the time and excited to be with Aretha who remained cold and aloof.
But Aretha’s verdict was withering: ‘Whitney lacked [her] wisdom and maturity as a recording artist’.
And most recently, at the 2008 Grammy Awards Aretha was miffed when Beyonce introduced Tina Turner as ‘the Queen’, a title Aretha jealously guarded.
She never backed off of being haughty and cold, an imperious queen. ‘Her fantasy is to eliminate the competition’, sister Erma said.
The ‘Respect’ performer is yet to respond to any of the above.