On Jan 3rd 1987, Aretha Franklin made history when she became the first woman ever to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In doing so, she set the stage for generations of female artists who followed in her wake. While it's hard to believe that it took until 1987 for a woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, it's also hard to imagine anyone but Franklin being more deserving of the honour. After a career that ultimately spanned over 60 years and earned her more than a dozen Grammy awards, it's entirely fitting that she should claim the pioneering accomplishment.
But one of the most interesting parts of her induction? Despite it being such a huge milestone for her, and for history, Franklin wasn’t able to attend the ceremony. Instead, the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, along with Clive Davis and Aretha's brother Cecil Franklin, toasted the Queen of Soul and read her touching acceptance speech on her behalf. Just as you'd expect from Franklin, her words were incredibly insightful and her appreciation palpable: "To be the first woman inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a historical moment and indeed a milestone in my career..."
Aretha Franklin is First Woman Ever Inducted into Rock Hall
From Aretha's history-making moment in 1987, the long line of legendary women to follow in Franklin's Hall of Fame footsteps include members of Motown royalty, like Diana Ross, The Supremes, and Martha and the Vandellas. Gladys Knight, who was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1996, wrote after her passing: "Aretha, your music set a standard for every single lady in this industry to rise to."
In 1995, Aretha Franklin performed at the grand opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio; almost blowing the roof of the then-new establishment with this powerhouse rendition of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Aretha Franklin | "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"
Then, in 2009, Aretha returned to the Hall of Fame to perform at the massive 25th anniversary celebrations which spanned across a two-day concert series and included performances from fellow Fame inductees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and more.
Aretha Franklin Performs "Baby I Love You" at the 25th Anniversary Concert
Aretha Franklin's legendary career will continue to live on for years to come … and so will the path she paved for the female artists that will come after her. She was more than just the Queen of Soul – the strength of her voice could only be matched only by the strength of her life which she lived by example, propelling civil rights and female equality with ferocious tenacity and pure grace. Listen to Aretha Franklin on Spotify:
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