“I’m absolutely devastated by Aretha’s passing,” Davis wrote on Twitter. “She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world. Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend. Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness.”
Davis and Franklin enjoyed a long and succesful partnership after the singer signed to his label, Arista Records, in 1980. Franklin had been looking to leave her longtime label Atlantic, and in a 2016 interview with Billboard, Davis recalled, “She was working with producers who didn’t quite have the right handle on the material. I went to her house in Los Angeles, and she cooked dinner for me. We spent the evening getting to know each other and establishing the bond that we have.”
Franklin’s first release on Arista was her 1980 eponymous LP. In 1982, she teamed with singer-songwriter-producer Luther Vandross for Jump to It, which became her first gold-certified album since 1976. Franklin one-upped herself in 1985 with Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, which sold over 1 million copies. She remained on Arista until the release of 2003’s So Damn Happy.
In 2017, Franklin honored Davis at a special concert following the premiere of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, a documentary about the music mogul. Franklin spoke briefly about her long working relationship with Davis, saying, “What a wonderful, caring humanitarian. He’s not only the chieftain who sits in the executive office and takes care of all the business; he takes care of his artists as well.”
On Tuesday, following reports that Franklin was gravely ill, Davis announced a tribute concert in her honor. According to reports, the show will take place this November at New York’s Madison Square Garden.