It was later revealed that she had been battling advanced pancreatic cancer.
The music icon, whose career spanned seven decades, died at home in Detroit several days after it was revealed she was seriously ill.
Sir Elton John led the tributes, describing Franklin as “the greatest vocalist I’ve ever known”.
Her last public performance came last November at Sir Elton’s Aids Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala in New York.
From her gospel roots Franklin found fame as a soul singer in the mid-1960s
I adored her and worshipped her talent. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy.
Sir Elton John
Sir Elton, 71, said: “The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music. Music from the heart, the soul and the church.
“Her voice was unique. I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance. She sang and played magnificently and we all wept.
“We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time.
“I adored her and worshipped her talent. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. God bless her.”
Aretha Franklin in her 1960s heyday
Singer Barbra Streisand, 76, shared a picture on Instagram of herself with Franklin, taken six years ago.
She said: “It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.”
In a statement, former president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary praised “one of America’s greatest national treasures”.
They said: “For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry. She will forever be the Queen of Soul.”
Singer Diana Ross, 74, said: “I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit, Aretha Franklin.”
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British singer Adele said she was “absolutely heartbroken” by Franklin’s death.
She said: “I can’t remember a day of my life without Aretha Franklin’s voice and music filling up my heart with so much joy and sadness.
“Absolutely heartbroken she’s gone, what a woman. Thank you for everything, the melodies and the movements.”
Singer and actress Bette Midler, 72, said: “The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled. Our beloved Aretha Franklin has gone.
“For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note. I loved her so and love her still. Goodbye, Queen of Soul.”
Two legends…Aretha sings along with fellow music superstar Tom Jones back in 1970
Sir Paul McCartney, 76, said: “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 for ever.”
Sir Mick Jagger said: “Very sad to hear the news about Aretha. She was so inspiring and wherever you were she always brought you to church.”
Sir Ringo Starr tweeted: “God bless Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, and peace and love to her family.”
Annie Lennox, 63, said: “Her voice will soar on for ever.”
On The Andy Williams Show in 1969
During a TV interview last year Franklin said: “I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now.
“I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.”
A statement from Franklin’s family said: “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. We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world.
“Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.”
Read more here: Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feedhappy wheels
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