Aretha Franklin's Only Film Role Was Legendary

She almost didn't make it into The Blues Brothers.
IMAGE Getty Images/Sunset Boulevard

Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at 76, earned her title as Queen of Soul for her enduring anthems like "Respect" and "Think." And the music legend also sang those songs in her first and only fictional movie role, starring in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers and its eventual sequel.

Starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues, The Blues Brothers was the first movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, on which Belushi and Aykroyd developed the characters.

Aykroyd and Belushi play a pair of ex-con soul singers who are trying to put together a benefit concert to save the Catholic orphanage where they were raised. Over the course of the film, the brothers reconnect with musicians they've met in the past, and these musicians are played by an all-star cast of performers that include Ray Charles, James Brown, and of course, Aretha Franklin.

When the brothers try to recruit their lead guitarist, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, for their backup band, they find him working in a diner with his wife, played by Franklin. Franklin's Mrs. Murphy doesn't want her husband joining his old bandmates, and she expresses her feelings through song.

That song, "Think," was originally released in 1968, and it became Franklin's seventh top 10 hit in the United States. The film's version is a new, longer version of the song.

As The Boombox reports, Franklin wrote about her first film role in her autobiography,Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul.

"The Blues Brothers was something I enjoyed making tremendously. It was my debut in film. The only thing I really didn’t like about it was the hours. I had to get up at seven o’clock in the morning to get ready to be on the set. But once you got there, and once you started rolling, then everything fell into place. I had a lot of fun with Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd—great guys—big sense of humor, and very, very professional and astute. So I had a good time. It makes everything so much easier when you’re having fun and you’re enjoying what you’re doing."


This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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