Aretha Franklin died Thursday after a long battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.
Aretha passed away in her Detroit home where she was under hospice care. She'd been in failing health for many months and she was down to 86 pounds. One source told us he was informed more than a week ago that Aretha could go at any time.
She was surrounded by friends and family when she passed. Her family released a statement, saying, "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. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family."
She had appeared incredibly frail in recent years, and rarely performed live. Her most recent appearance was last November for Elton John's AIDS Foundation 25th Anniversary Benefit.
Aretha' was born in Memphis in 1942, her family eventually relocated to Detroit where she began singing in her father's church. She was such a powerhouse gospel singer, she landed a Columbia record deal in the early '60s.
Her string of chart-topping hits began with her Atlantic Records deal in 1967.