Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin dies at 76

By: contactmusic.net
Aretha Franklin
The late Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has passed away aged 76.

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The 76-year-old music icon died surrounded by her family at her home in Detroit after a battle with pancreatic cancer, the singer's long-time publicist Gwendolyn Quinn has confirmed.

A statement by the 'Respect' hitmaker's family, revealing the cause of death, read: ''Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Aretha Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute'' in Detroit.''

On their great loss, they added: ''In one of the darkest moments of our lives, 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.''

In the days before her passing, Aretha's publicist had stated that the ''love and support'' the music icon and her family had received from fans when news of her serious illness came out had been a great comfort to her and her family.

Gwendolyn said: ''Aretha Franklin has been the matriarch of the Franklin family since the passing of all of her siblings. The love she has for her family is above reproach and was evident in the warm smiles she was able to share with her nephew during his very brief visit two weeks ago.

"She is seriously ill and surrounded by family members who appreciate the outpouring of love and support they have received.''

Aretha - whose three siblings all died of cancer - had battled ill health over the last few years and in 2011, denied she was suffering from pancreatic cancer, though she later admitted she'd had a tumour removed.

The 'Think' singer - who was born in Memphis but raised in Detroit from the age of five - enjoyed a career packed with highlights and unique achievements since her first album was released back in 1956.

Aretha Franklin achieved more than 20 number one singles in the US and won the Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance eight years in a row - from 1968 to 1975. In total she accumulated 18 Grammys.

In 1987, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Franklin - who was married twice, first to her manager Ted White and then to actor Glynn Turman - was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2005.