Gladys Knight said in a new interview that she “had the same disease” as her late friend Aretha Franklin.
The “Midnight Train to Georgia” singer, 74, spoke about her diagnosis while recalling her final conversation with the Queen of Soul, who died at the age of 76 on August 16 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
“The last time I talked to her, we were at the same hotel and we didn’t know it. But I know her crew and family, she knows my crew and family,” Knight told WDIV-TV on Friday, August 31, before Franklin’s funeral in Detroit. “Aretha said, ‘Get down here,’ so I went down. … We just got to talking, and at that time we shared the fact that we had the same disease.”
The Empress of Soul later clarified her comments in a statement to Us Weekly via her rep, Jay Schwartz: “I’d like to clarify that Aretha and I discussed both of us having cancer, mine was stage I breast cancer and hers was pancreatic. Due to early detection, I am cancer-free and grateful for that. It is unfortunate that on a day we should be celebrating Aretha’s life and massive contribution to our world, a reporter who did not relay accurate information has missed the message. I send my love to the entire Franklin family and my gratitude to them for sharing such an extraordinary person with us.”
Knight previously opened up to Us exclusively about how she is coping with the loss of Franklin.
“I miss her, but I didn’t want her to suffer. I really didn’t,” she said at a USTA Foundation gala in New York City on Monday, August 27. “She knew it was a disease that would take her out, and she just kept on doing what she does best. So Aretha, safe journey.”
The seven-time Grammy winner added, “We all have our days. I mean, we have absolutely no control over that. The Lord tells us where we are going and tells us when we are coming. So I’m not overly upset about it, and He knows how much each one of us can bear, and he calls us home with those things in mind. That’s the way I feel about it because he loves us like that.”
Knight attended the U.S. Open in NYC on Wednesday, August 29. An eyewitness tells Us that she “appeared to be in good spirits” and “got a big reaction from the crowd.”
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