• Aretha Franklin, with Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on the set of 'The Blues Brothers'. (AAP)
Pay your R-E-S-P-E-C-T-s to the scene-stealing diva in the diner. Sunday night on SBS Australia.
By
SBS Movies

18 Aug 2018 - 1:59 PM  UPDATED 18 Aug 2018 - 1:59 PM

Let's go back, let's go back, let's go way on, way back when...

We're all feeling the loss of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Ms Aretha Franklin, who passed away in the wee small hours of Friday 17 August due to complications with pancreatic cancer.

Aretha Franklin's extraordinary career spanned six decades, and she influenced generations of female singers with unforgettable hits including "Respect" (1967), "Natural Woman" (1968) and "I Say a Little Prayer" (1968). 

Former president Barack Obama released a joint statement with his wife, Michelle, praising Aretha Franklin's legacy, and her impact on America.  

“America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine,” the Obamas said.

“Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade – our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”

And other times, she made us laugh.

In 1980, John Landis was assembling a megawatt roster of music industry cameos for his musical odyssey The Blues Brothers. The call sheet featured James Brown, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and John Lee Hooker, but it was a five-minute show-stealing scene with Aretha Franklin that proved the most enduring. 

Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi play ex-con soul singers, Jake and Elwood Blues, who endeavour to stage a benefit concert to save the Catholic orphanage in which they were raised. Over the course of the film, the brothers reconnect with their musician pals, to varying degrees of success. 

When the brothers try to recruit their lead guitarist, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, for their backup band, they find him working in a diner with his wife (Franklin). Mrs. Murphy doesn't care much for the idea of having her husband up and leave their small business, to go and join his old degenerate band mates. 

“Now you’re not going back on the road no more,” she fumes. “And you ain’t playing them old two-bit sleazy dives. You're living with me now.” When Jake and Elwood claim they are on a mission from God, Mrs. Murphy scolds their blasphemy.

To remove all doubt about her thoughts on the matter, she restates her negative opinions to both her husband and the brothers Blues, through song, with a finger-waving rendition of her classic hit "Think".

Her pleas fall on deaf ears, however, and Guitar takes off with the brothers. But the star cameo introduced the diva to a new audience, and showed off her wry sense of humour. Mrs Murphy was the Queen of Soul's only film role, and she reprised it once more for the sequel, Blues Brothers 2000 (in which she sang "Respect").

As news broke of the diva's death on Friday, her co-star Aykroyd joined the outpouring of tributes to her formidable talent. 

 

'The Blues Brothers: Aretha Franklin Tribute' will screen on SBS Australia, Sunday 19 August at 8.30pm

Please note the film will not be available for catch-up viewing at SBS On Demand. 

 

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