Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Aretha Franklin: Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Aretha Franklin
John Hammond and Aretha Franklin

“Hammond’s folly” was what some critics called Bob Dylan when he was signed to Columbia Records by the legendary talent scout John Hammond, who’d previously brought the likes of Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Benny Goodman to the label. Dylan, they said, would never sell, and they were right-for a while. The icon-to-be’s 1962 debut moved only a few thousand copies.

Dylan ultimately did OK for Columbia, but perhaps Hammond’s real folly was the singer he had signed just a year earlier, Aretha Franklin. In what has become a textbook case of right artist/wrong time, Columbia never quite understood that the Queen of Soul was in their midst, just waiting to be molded into such. Applying her hurricane-strength pipes to middle-of-the-road jazz and pop tunes, too few blues and more than a little schmaltz, Columbia’s producers missed the boat on Franklin. She sold moderately well but never attained the level of success Columbia had hoped for, and we all know what happened once she left the label for Atlantic Records in 1967.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.