The incandescent “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin (pictured) is reportedly threatening to sue famed biographer David Ritz for his tell-all book, “Respect” published by Little, Brown and Company. Franklin is beyond peeved about the reportedly controversial book, which was 25 years in the making, stating that the author is making false claims about her, one of them being that she was promiscuous in her younger days, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.
Ritz has authored more than 50 books using either his own name or as a ghost writer. His subjects range from such legends as Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and Etta James, to Smokey Robinson and Willie Nelson.
Franklin has always been an extremely guarded individual about her private life. Besides discussing in the book the early separation of her parents, the challenge of becoming a teenage mother, a string of controlling relationships and multiple bouts with alcoholism, depression and insecurity, Ritz reportedly interviewed a chorus of friends, family, associates and peers about the 72-year-old singer. He contends that during the 1950s, as Franklin and her father toured the gospel circuit, it was referred to as the “Sex Circus,” a sexual free-for-all that involved not only same-sex but hetero couplings as well.
Songstress Etta James, who also toured with Franklin as a youth, reportedly co-signed on Ritz’s allegations in the book about Franklin’s sex drive, stating, “I can understand Aretha not wanting to talk about that . . . Who wants to admit that you’re praising the Lord at the 8 p.m. service and servicing some drop-dead gorgeous hunk of a singer an hour later? Aretha and I started out before we were teenagers . . . we wanted to experience it all. I wouldn’t use the expression sexually active, I’d say sexually overactive.”
Ritz reportedly sees his book as a tribute to Franklin’s dynamic career in a business that can be spiritually, emotionally and physically brutal. Franklin, however, refers to the book as pure muck, telling the Detroit News, “There’s a very trashy, trashy book on the street . . . It’s lies, lies, lies and then more lies.” Franklin adds, “I’m talking to a criminal attorney. If this isn’t defamation, I don’t know what would be.”