The two surviving Beatles paid tribute to Aretha Franklin today following the news of the Queen of Soul’s death. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr issued separate statements, each praising the artist for her musical impact.
“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,” McCartney wrote, paired with a photo that was shot looking up at her as if in awe. “She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul.”
Starr simply wrote, “God bless Aretha Franklin the queen of soul and peace and love to her family.” He accompanied the note with emojis for music, peace and love.
Franklin was a mutual admirer. She put her spin on covers of “Let It Be” and “Eleanor Rigby” while the band was still together and “The Long and Winding Road” after they broke up. Her arrangement of the former was more like a gospel song with church organ and choral backup vocals, which both supported her own unique passionate vocal performance.
“Eleanor Rigby” turned the Fab Four’s baroque, third-person tale into a first-person gospel rave-up with scratchy guitar, an upbeat drumbeat and Franklin wondering loudly where all the lonely people belong. She included this in her set lists, delivering an exceptiontal performance of the song at the Fillmore West.
Her take on “The Long and Winding Road,” which appeared on her 1972 Young, Gifted and Black LP, was equally upbeat and gospel-tinged, side-stepping the schmaltzy arrangement Phil Spector cooked up on Let It Be in favor of a moving groove and Franklin’s stirring vocals.