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  1. #1

    "Aretha Deserved Better" From NY TIMES Magazine

    Stumbled upon this article , written the year-end of Aretha's passing, & found it an informative read :



    https://www.showbiz411.com/2018/12/3...-so-here-it-is
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 03-06-2021 at 07:19 PM.

  2. #2
    a Chapter Two that eclipsed “Respect” and all those 60s and 70s hits
    I think not.

  3. #3
    Nothing that she recorded with Arista came anywhere close to her Atlantic years save for the 'Who's Zooming Who' album.

  4. #4
    Not sure what inside knowledge the author appears to have about all that Aretha went through during her years under Atlantic , but he seems to harbor some acquired bitterness.

    Her last twenty years was an attempt to take control of her life after kow-towing to everyone for decades. It wasnít until Clive Davis scooped her up at the end of her Atlantic Records contract, in 1979, that Aretha came in to her own. Before that sheíd been her fatherís daughter, and Jerry Wexlerís muse. Remember, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry let her go from Atlantic, service over, thanks a lot.

    Roger Friedman
    The New York Times Magazine did my friend, Aretha Franklin, quite a disservice in their latest issue about famous people who passed this year. The woman who was named Best Singer Ever by Rolling Stone, winner of 18 Grammy Awards, the Queen of Soul didnít even merit a feature story. Instead she got a few words from someone no oneís ever heard of, plus some ghastly art by the same person. The art is so ugly I still canít get over it. Iíll put the picture inside here, so you can see what the Times thought of Aretha and how they wanted to memorialize it.
    Ugly : yep

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Not sure what inside knowledge the author appears to have about all that Aretha went through during her years under Atlantic , but he seems to harbor some acquired bitterness.



    Ugly : yep

    From what I have read about and from Jerry Wexler, he seemed to have a great deal of respect for not only Aretha but for her immense talent as well. Whether things changed over the years at Atlantic, I have no idea. But Aretha's Atlantic catalog is my favorite.

  6. #6
    Gary, I too had only thought the best existed between Jerry and Aretha and that her times at Atlantic were terrific.
    Well, I posted Roger Friedman verbatim, am I reading him wrong ??

  7. #7
    So out of curiosity I searched for more articles concerning Wexler and Franklin over at Showbiz:

    https://www.showbiz411.com/2009/10/1...tion-rock-hall

    Here's Roger Friedman's ending comment :

    "On a personal note: I knew Jerry Wexler, and he was just as great a guy as you might think. He was also underrated and a little overshadowed. This event should do him just a little of the justice he deserves."
    What I'm also noticing about this planned tribute event for Jerry Wexler , no Aretha Franklin .
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 03-10-2021 at 11:30 AM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    So out of curiosity I searched for more articles concerning Wexler and Franklin over at Showbiz:

    https://www.showbiz411.com/2009/10/1...tion-rock-hall

    Here's Roger Friedman's ending comment :



    What I'm also noticing about this planned tribute event for Jerry Wexler , no Aretha Franklin .
    Maybe Aretha shared stories with Friedman that she never shared publically. Or he could just be wrong. I wouldn't be surprised if it is the latter. I've read other articles of his and his views often seem biased.

    That said, Wexler left Atlantic before Aretha did. So I'm not sure what Friedman was referring to when he said Ertegun and Wexler "let her go." From reading David Ritz' book, it seemed as if they maintained contact. And I think there were times where Jerry hinted that he wanted to produce her again [[maybe a duet album with Ray Charles) but Aretha wanted hits.

    Moreover, Aretha has always spoken of Ertegun in the highest terms. In her book, she said Ertegun made it clear that he wanted her to remain on Atlantic when she was thinking about leaving for Arista. She sang in his honor when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When I attended her 2004 concert at BB King's Club in NYC, Ertegun was in attendance and she introduced him from the stage.
    Last edited by reese; 03-10-2021 at 11:49 AM.

  9. #9
    I imagine as time passes and as some of the players depart, specifics probably get revealed by people who felt it better to keep quiet at the time. I suspect that people on the inside are always learning additional tidbits. It reads to me that Roger Friedman is coming to less filtered conclusions with the passage of time.

    Here's more to the story:

    The tribute for Jerry Wexler was timed and placed in NYC to tie in with the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame event already taking place there. Aretha Franklin was a
    no-show at the beloved Jerry Wexler event.
    Guess who performed at the Hall Of Fame concert!?

    https://www.showbiz411.com/2009/10/3...l-jerry-wexler

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    I imagine as time passes and as some of the players depart, specifics probably get revealed by people who felt it better to keep quiet at the time. I suspect that people on the inside are always learning additional tidbits. It reads to me that Roger Friedman is coming to less filtered conclusions with the passage of time.

    Here's more to the story:

    The tribute for Jerry Wexler was timed and placed in NYC to tie in with the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame event already taking place there. Aretha Franklin was a
    no-show at the beloved Jerry Wexler event.
    Guess who performed at the Hall Of Fame concert!?

    https://www.showbiz411.com/2009/10/3...l-jerry-wexler
    In David Ritz's book on Aretha, he mentioned that Wexler's children planned his memorial in NYC for a time they knew she would be in town. On the day before the service, Ritz called Aretha many times to let her know the time and place. But she didn't show and when asked by Ritz later what happened, she claimed not to have known about the memorial.

    Possibly she changed her mind. Maybe she didn't want to attend in the first place. Only she knew. But I don't think Friedman would have mentioned it if he thought there was something suspect. He was actually a big supporter of hers and I wouldn't be surprised if she sometimes leaked info to him.

  11. #11
    I'll suggest this : Roger knew all about why Aretha didn't attend but carefully glazed over it in his reporting, lkely as directed by his friend Aretha.
    If he didn't know , his summary might have said something like "curiously , Aretha Franklin, who was in fine form when performing nearby at the Hall of Fame show was missing entirely at Wexler's event. "

    There can only be one explanation why Aretha snubbed such a tribute that was so conveniently arranged around her.

  12. #12
    I'm going by memory, when Aretha was doing "A Rose is still a Rose" with Lauryn Hill, Lauryn had mentioned something to the effect that Aretha was very bitter regarding not receiving credit as a producer on her initial Atlantic albums. It was suggested that she had approached Wexler about it, but he had dismissed her or placated her. I also remember reading where Tom Dowd, the engineer of those albums stated that Aretha should have had production credit.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by stingbeelee View Post
    I'm going by memory, when Aretha was doing "A Rose is still a Rose" with Lauryn Hill, Lauryn had mentioned something to the effect that Aretha was very bitter regarding not receiving credit as a producer on her initial Atlantic albums. It was suggested that she had approached Wexler about it, but he had dismissed her or placated her. I also remember reading where Tom Dowd, the engineer of those albums stated that Aretha should have had production credit.
    Aretha herself said something similar in her book, FROM THESE ROOTS. She said that she should have been listed as a co-producer on her Atlantic albums along with Wexler, Arif Mardin, and Tom Dowd. She felt such credits might have led to different career choices / opportunities.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    Aretha herself said something similar in her book, FROM THESE ROOTS. She said that she should have been listed as a co-producer on her Atlantic albums along with Wexler, Arif Mardin, and Tom Dowd. She felt such credits might have led to different career choices / opportunities.
    I love my Aretha but ... I think her memories and public reflections were revisionary at best. Though for $ purposes her input regarding backing vocals and sometimes instrumentation should have yielded production credit, it seems inarguable that when left to her own devices Franklin made some really, truly, actually and historically less-than-great decisions. If Aretha was bitter because she thought she would have become a successful producer, well ...... anybody remember Aretha's aborted Josephine Baker tribute at the Sparkle-era Carnegie Hall concert?

  15. #15
    Good detective work guys!
    I didn't see this topic taking this turn, interesting , but
    it saddens me to think that Aretha's success story is mired by this degree of bitterness toward Jerry. While she was certainly mostly self-made, it was Wexler who brought out of her what was until then wasting away. How long was Aretha at Columbia where she remained unnoticed , what , five or six years ? Atlantic records rescued her and allowed her to bloom. I believe it was Wexler who took her to Stax and Fame where her stylizing was allowed to flourish.
    I don't know how common it was for artists to share production credits in the sixties, at Atlantic specifically , did Dusty Springfield? Likely Franklin's friendship with people like Stevie Wonder in the early seventies made her aware of the self production angle, as was increasingly the trend although certainly not universal. Seems like around that time she was seasoned enough to handle the task at hand.
    Was Jerry Wexler losing interest in her by about this time ? In '76 she paired up with Curtis Mayfield, did she get production credits then ?
    I see Aretha got coproducer credits on all her Arista albums.

    wiki says that by the late seventies Aretha was having problems with the Atlantic label, but doesn't explain further, perhaps it was specifically the production issue ?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Good detective work guys!
    I didn't see this topic taking this turn, interesting , but
    it saddens me to think that Aretha's success story is mired by this degree of bitterness toward Jerry. While she was certainly mostly self-made, it was Wexler who brought out of her what was until then wasting away. How long was Aretha at Columbia where she remained unnoticed , what , five or six years ? Atlantic records rescued her and allowed her to bloom. I believe it was Wexler who took her to Stax and Fame where her stylizing was allowed to flourish.
    I don't know how common it was for artists to share production credits in the sixties, at Atlantic specifically , did Dusty Springfield? Likely Franklin's friendship with people like Stevie Wonder in the early seventies made her aware of the self production angle, as was increasingly the trend although certainly not universal. Seems like around that time she was seasoned enough to handle the task at hand.
    Was Jerry Wexler losing interest in her by about this time ? In '76 she paired up with Curtis Mayfield, did she get production credits then ?
    I see Aretha got coproducer credits on all her Arista albums.

    wiki says that by the late seventies Aretha was having problems with the Atlantic label, but doesn't explain further, perhaps it was specifically the production issue ?
    Aretha's first production credit was on the AMAZING GRACE album. After that, she did an album with Quincy Jones that didn't do well. She then went back to Wexler and they did three more albums before he left the company. Wexler has mentioned that by their final albums together, she wasn't as willing to take direction as before. To be fair, he produced Etta James not long afterward and she complained he was too controlling as well.

    She didn't have any production credits on her albums with Curtis Mayfield, SPARKLE and ALMIGHTY FIRE. She did co-write one song with then-husband Glynn Turman for the latter album.

    The problem Aretha had by the late 70s was the lack of hits. Each of her final albums [[with the exception of SPARKLE) did worse than the one before it. Like most artists, Aretha blamed it on a lack of promotion. But I think many fans [[including myself) think the quality level had dropped from the early Atlantic days. I have a better appreciation for the latter Atlantic albums now but at the time, what I heard didn't appeal to me. I didn't start buying her albums again until she signed with Arista.
    Last edited by reese; 03-11-2021 at 01:24 PM.

  17. #17
    Very good Reese
    So from 1973 onward Aretha got her way and always got production credits on her albums regardless of who she was sharing the helm with , Quincy , Lamont , Van , Jerry.
    The only exceptions were her two with Curtis Mayfield. I guess he wasn't having it ! Lol!
    But she couldn't have been too upset about it , she did it twice.

    So to be unforgivably mad at Jerry Wexler with this as the issue, when they had resolved it in real time, seems unreasonable. Must be more to the story.

    Added:
    As you say Jerry had moved on by 1976, so to blame him for her lack of hits, and weakened sales and lack of promotion on her last albums at Atlantic is also unreasonable.
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 03-12-2021 at 12:54 PM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Very good Reese
    So from 1973 onward Aretha got her way and always got production credits on her albums regardless of who she was sharing the helm with , Quincy , Lamont , Van , Jerry.
    The only exceptions were her two with Curtis Mayfield. I guess he wasn't having it ! Lol!
    But she couldn't have been too upset about it , she did it twice.
    Not too surprising that Aretha didn't get production credit on the SPARKLE album as it was a soundtrack and was actually initally a project for her sister Carolyn. It was Aretha's first gold album since AMAZING GRACE and temporarily brought some luster back to her career.

    I was a bit more suprised that she didn't do any production on their second album together, ALMIGHTY FIRE. But she was a newlywed and was probably pre-occupied with her new husband.

  19. #19
    Now you've got me reading about the movie SPARKLE over at wiki.
    If I'm reading about it correctly , Sparkle starred in part , Irene Cara.
    Her vocals [[And others in the movie ) were taken out and replaced with Aretha singing over the movie's compositions.
    The album released is Aretha singing the music to SPARKLE . when seeing the movie , the audience will not hear Aretha. And There was no true soundtrack released.

    What an odd arrangement , almost deceitful. I wonder how Irene Cara felt about that?
    reese, why in the world was Aretha's sister a part of this ?
    Fascinatng stuff.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Now you've got me reading about the movie SPARKLE over at wiki.
    If I'm reading about it correctly , Sparkle starred in part , Irene Cara.
    Her vocals [[And others in the movie ) were taken out and replaced with Aretha singing over the movie's compositions.
    The album released is Aretha singing the music to SPARKLE . when seeing the movie , the audience will not hear Aretha. And There was no true soundtrack released.

    What an odd arrangement , almost deceitful. I wonder how Irene Cara felt about that?
    reese, why in the world was Aretha's sister a part of this ?
    Fascinatng stuff.
    According to Lonette McKee [[who starred as "Sister" in the film), Warner Bros. came to the actors with a very bad $ deal when it came to releasing the soundtrack. None of them signed but they never received another offer. She also referenced Curtis Mayfield making some statements about not using them. According to Lonette, none of them were happy about being replaced.

    It was strange. I can't think of another instance where such a thing was done. Myself, after seeing the film, I couldn't wait to buy Aretha's album. But if it had been available, I would have bought the original soundtrack as well.

    In interviews published in David Ritz's book on Aretha, Carolyn says that she and Curtis ran into each other and he told her was doing the soundtrack. He played her the songs and said he thought Lonette and Irene were good singers but he wanted someone with more experience to do it. Was Carolyn interested? Yes, she was.

    At the same time, Aretha was searching for a new producer and Curtis' name was on the list. Somehow she got a copy of the SPARKLE songs and wanted to do them. It caused a lot of family drama until Rev. Franklin decided that Aretha should do the soundtrack and Carolyn should do something else.
    Last edited by reese; 03-12-2021 at 07:51 PM.

  21. #21
    Bizarre!!
    Carolyne was considered "more experienced "? I don't know anything about her , did she have LPs out of the time?

    If it went down the way you're laying it out reese :
    One word --- despicable.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Bizarre!!
    Carolyne was considered "more experienced "? I don't know anything about her , did she have LPs out of the time?

    If it went down the way you're laying it out reese :
    One word --- despicable.
    Carolyn recorded some albums for RCA as well as writing some songs for Aretha [[AIN'T NO WAY and ANGEL among them) as well as for Esther Phillips and the Staple Singers.

  23. #23
    Recently YouTuber Nay Rob narrated David Ritz's book on Aretha and apparently when left to her own devices, Aretha was a hot mess. Columbia didn't know what to do with her and, deep down, Clive himself struggled with her as well [[there were only four successful albums Aretha recorded during her 24 years with Arista, dwarfed, obviously by the phenomenal success of Whitney Houston). I do think when Jerry was around, Aretha shined. It was something that was missed obviously by the time Jerry left for Warner Music in 1975 [[just as Aretha was releasing the ill-fated "You" album). Aretha had more or less began trying to produce more during the last years of the Wexler era but since Wexler was in the final years of his contract, Ree took more charge with sometimes-disastrous results.

    That said, Aretha did deserve better...

  24. #24
    When left to her own devices, as Aretha assumed more and more control over her business affairs and lacked the business acumen to put together successful projects with the best personnel in the industry. Too many stories about musicians and arrangers getting stiffed, ultimately sometimes refusing to work for her without the money up front. It impacted her work I believe and it was the old story of tripping over a dollar to pick up a dime. The subsequent shaky financial issues and sloppy bookkeeping to this day are emblematic of her neglect of her business affairs that certainly had an impact on her artistry in the later years, up to and including the many issues revolving around her estate...... When she left the money, promotion and production to the pro's, her exquisite body of work spoke for itself...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 03-14-2021 at 05:01 PM.

  25. #25
    Whaaattt??? Quote from the article: "Jerry Wexler's muse"????? Uh-uh! Aretha was nobody's muse. She wrote, played on, and practically produced those Atlantic recordings! Such gall!

  26. #26
    Being a muse is not a bad thing. Maybe Roger knows more about their relationship, and does feel that Aretha's talents brought out the best of Wexler's work. They seemed to be joined at the hip during her shining moments...

    It might be argued that Jerry was Aretha's muse....that his skills brought out the best in her.

    Hey reese!,
    Arif Mardin did a recording called ALL MY FRIENDS ARE HERE [[2006), where's Aretha??

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Being a muse is not a bad thing. Maybe Roger knows more about their relationship, and does feel that Aretha's talents brought out the best of Wexler's work. They seemed to be joined at the hip during her shining moments...

    It might be argued that Jerry was Aretha's muse....that his skills brought out the best in her.

    Hey reese!,
    Arif Mardin did a recording called ALL MY FRIENDS ARE HERE [[2006), where's Aretha??
    Never heard of Arif's cd but it looks interesting. Aretha worked with him fairly regularly over the years, often on special project albums and soundtracks. Perhaps she wasn't asked or wasn't able to do this one.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    When left to her own devices, as Aretha assumed more and more control over her business affairs and lacked the business acumen to put together successful projects with the best personnel in the industry. Too many stories about musicians and arrangers getting stiffed, ultimately sometimes refusing to work for her without the money up front. It impacted her work I believe and it was the old story of tripping over a dollar to pick up a dime. The subsequent shaky financial issues and sloppy bookkeeping to this day are emblematic of her neglect of her business affairs that certainly had an impact on her artistry in the later years, up to and including the many issues revolving around her estate...... When she left the money, promotion and production to the pro's, her exquisite body of work spoke for itself...
    And I think this was between 1967-73.

    It was only after 1973 that things went into this up and down swing until her final concerts in 2017.

  29. #29
    A miniseries begins tonight on National Geographic about Aretha

    https://www.npr.org/2021/03/19/97905...new-miniseries

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