Aretha Franklin's iconic moments, from 'Respect' to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

With a career spanning nearly six decades, Aretha Franklin proudly earned the title “Queen of Soul.” The legendary soul singer died Thursday of advanced pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, Fox News confirmed.

Franklin became an international sensation after releasing her hit song “Respect” in 1967.

Since then, Franklin has been nominated for 44 Grammy awards, winning 18 of them. Franklin's other well-known classics include “Natural Woman,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Chain of Fools.”

Franklin set the stage for modern female singers, hitting milestones many artists only dream of.


From becoming the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to being the youngest-ever recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, here’s a look at some of Franklin’s history-making moments that will never be forgotten.

Record deal

Franklin scored her first record deal with Columbia Records in New York City in 1960.

Releases “Respect”

Seven years later, Franklin ditched Columbia Records for Atlantic Records, where she recorded her Grammy Award-winning hit “Respect.” The song dropped on Valentine’s Day in 1967. It skyrocketed to the top of the charts just four months later and became known as a feminist anthem.


"My sister Carolyn and I got together and — I was living in a small apartment on the west side of Detroit, piano by the window, watching the cars go by — and we came up with that infamous line, the 'sock it to me' line," Franklin told radio host Terry Gross at the time, according to NPR. "Some of the girls were saying that to the fellas, like 'sock it to me' in this way or 'sock it to me' in that way. It's not sexual. It was nonsexual, just a cliché line."

Detroit mayor declares Aretha Franklin Day

Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh dedicated a day to the Queen of Soul (a former Detroit resident) on Feb. 16, 1968, ahead of Franklin’s performance at the city’s Cobb Hall.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

“I don’t think there’s anybody I have known who possesses an instrument like hers and who has such a thorough background in gospel, the blues and the essential black-music idiom,” co-founder of Atlantic Records Ahmet Ertegun said at the time, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame notes on its website. “She is blessed with an extraordinary combination of remarkable urban sophistication and deep blues feeling...The result is maybe the greatest singer of our time.”

Kennedy Center Honors

In December 1994, at the age of 52, Franklin became the youngest recipient ever of the Kennedy Center Honors.

“You could say that Hillary and I went to law school with Aretha, because there was hardly a day when we didn’t listen to one of her songs,” President Bill Clinton said during the ceremony, per Billboard.

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

Franklin received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, roughly three years after being honored with the Grammy Legend Award.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

In 2005, George W. Bush presented Franklin with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The singer was one of 14 icons — including famous boxer Muhammad Ali, actress Carol Burnett and actor Andy Griffith — to receive the award on Nov. 9, 2005.

Obama’s inauguration

Franklin sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009.

The singer told Larry King at the time she couldn't properly articulate the feeling she had watching the first African-American president being sworn in.

"There's a love affair going on with the country and Barack. I think it's the age of Barack. People have just fallen head over heels in love with him. His ascent to the presidency was miraculous. But we have to remember that he's not going to work miracles right off the top. It's going to take time," she told King on Jan. 22, 2009.

First female to earn her 100th hit on Billboard's Hot R&B chart

Franklin made history with her rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” in the fall of 2014, hitting No. 47 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song gave Franklin her 100th career title on the famed song chart.

"She's on fire and vocally in absolutely peak form. What a thrill to see this peerless artist still showing the way, still sending shivers up your spine, still demonstrating that all contemporary music needs right now is the voice. What a voice,” Clive Davis told Billboard at the time.

Franklin praised Adele's music style, specifically her "21" album.

"It's what contemporary music needs more of," Franklin said of Adele's album, according to Billboard. "I absolutely loved her CD. In addition to being a great singer, she's a great writer, a deep, heavy writer. She doesn't write the usual or the norm."

Longest national anthem ever?

Jaws dropped around the country as Franklin slowly belted the “Star Spangled Banner” at the Detroit Lions-Minnesota Vikings game on Thanksgiving Day in 2016.

Franklin’s performance lasted a surprising 4 minutes and 35 seconds — what many believe to be a record.


According to Fox Sports, Franklin’s performance was more than twice as long as the national average, which clocks in at 1 minute and 57 seconds.

Fox News' Katherine Lam contributed to this report.