I thought long and hard about writing a tribute to the Queen of Soul and then I thought why rehash all the same stuff that everyone else is writing about? The best tribute to Aretha Franklin is the rich musical history that she has left behind her and it speaks about her incredible talent so much better than any writer or reporter could ever do.  With that in mind I want to share you one of my favourite live recordings of Aretha from 1971.

Recorded over three nights at the legendary San Francisco Fillmore West venue with King Curtis and his band pulling double shifts as her opening act and then backing band, the record gives the listener a true feel of the power and strength that Aretha had at her peak.

Also noticeable are the covers. She cleverly throws in versions ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘Love the One You’re With’ to win over the hippy audience that the Fillmore was known for. 

Throughout the whole performance Aretha commands the attention of both listener and band alike and thrills the mixed race audience in return.

The musicianship on the record is tight and full of soulful funk. The Memphis Horns join in as does Billy Preston and Ray Charles to complete a musical line up that has since become the stuff of legends and thankfully it was recorded for us all to enjoy almost fifty years after the event.

There’s no better tribute to the Queen of Soul than this performance.