Local musician reflects on playing with Aretha Franklin

Local News

For a musician like guitarist Craig McMullen, who’s played with the best of the best, calling Aretha THE best is saying something. 

“Yeah she’s got to be the best singer period,” said McMullen. 

McMullen played on a handful of tracks on Aretha Franklin’s 1977 “Sweet Passion” album, performed with her that same year for President Jimmy Carter’s inaugural gala, toured with her and considered her a friend. 

“She was very jovial and she had a sense of humor. But the best thing about Aretha was she could sing. Yes. I mean we played jazz, everything on the show and she could cover just about everything,” he said. 

McMullen said playing with Aretha was like 2 top athletes competing. It raises the game of both. 

“It’s fun playing with her at the time I was playing and that can’t be replaced. and that can’t be replaced,” said McMullen. 

And on the day Aretha Franklin succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, Craig McMullen said memories of Aretha Franklin are highlights of his life. 

“The legacy that she left and my experience being with her I’m just fortunate to have played with her,” he said. 

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