Downtown Las Vegas Fremont Street Experience Celebrates Aretha Franklin, Singer Remembered by City’s Stars

Posted on: August 17, 2018, 09:55h. 

Last updated on: August 17, 2018, 09:57h.

Aretha Franklin — known globally as the “Queen of Soul” and who passed away at the age of 76 this week — is being remembered at the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) canopy in downtown Las Vegas. The tribute began Thursday night, and will run again tonight at 8 and 10 pm, concluding with a final airing at midnight PT.

Aretha Franklin death Fremont Street
The Fremont Street Experience is paying respects to one of the greatest voices of all time, Aretha Franklin, who had some memorable Las Vegas performances through the decades. (Image: Fremont Street Experience/Leon Morris/Getty/

The Viva Vision Light Show canopy show features a compilation of Franklin’s many chart-topping tracks and includes video footage from her storied career. Tracks in the tribute include some of her mega-hits, such as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Think.”

In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” the Franklin family said of her passing in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”

Franklin died on Thursday after battling pancreatic cancer for several years.

Franklin Career, Vegas Shows

Born in Tennessee, the entertainer became a mother at the age of 12, and gave birth for a second time at 15. But by her late teens, she was also an accomplished singer and pianist.

In her early days, she honed her craft in her father’s Baptist church. Her father was known to be a playboy at night, and a preacher in the morning.

Franklin’s music career found success in the 1960s, and took off towards commercial fame in the later part of the decade and throughout the 1970s.

Her first four R&B chart toppers came in 1967 with “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” “Respect,” “Baby I Love You,” and “Chain of Fools.” Franklin’s career would go on to amass 20 #1 Billboard R&B singles.

Franklin made her Las Vegas debut in 1969 at the original Caesars Palace showroom, in the days long before superstar residencies were a thing for Caesars Entertainment. She told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2012 that she was bit uncomfortable in the venue. “During that time, I was doing a lot of one-nighters and was not necessarily a showroom-type artist. My presentation was not geared towards that,” she explained.

Franklin performed many times in Sin City throughout her decades touring. In 1979, she was performing at the Aladdin Hotel (now Planet Hollywood), when she learned her father had been shot at point blank range in his Detroit home by burglars. He would remain in a coma for five years before dying in 1984 at the age of 69.

Stars Pay Respect

Many of Franklin’s colleagues poured out their condolences on the news of her passing.

“What a life. What a legacy! So much love, respect and gratitude,” Carole King tweeted. Diana Ross added, “I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.”

Longtime Las Vegas showman Earl Turner might have said it best. “She was considered the Queen of Soul, but she was simply the Queen of Music,” he told the Review-Journal.