In 1967, Aretha Franklin’s reign as the “Queen of Soul” began.
Franklin was in her mid-20s and had recently left Columbia Records to sign with Atlantic Records. She had released her 11th studio album, “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” widely considered to be her best work and includes the souled-up juggernaut “Respect.”
After her performance at the Regal, Spann presided over a coronation of sorts, placing a crown on Franklin’s head and dubbing her “the Queen of Soul.” Franklin, who had been wearing a form-hugging sequined silver gown, later gushed remembering the moment: “I never thought it would happen!” according to the book “Aretha Franklin” by Jim McAvoy.
“That happened when I was at the Regal Theater in Chicago, which was very much like The Apollo in New York,” she told the paper. “[Spann] walked on stage one evening with a crown, and I went, ‘Whoooa! What is this?’”
But she embraced her newfound title. “Who wouldn’t want to be called ‘Queen’?” she said.