Watch Bill Clinton recall his life as an 'Aretha Franklin groupie'

Bill Clinton speaking at Aretha Franklin's funeral.
(Image credit: Screenshot/Twitter/ABC News)

Aretha Franklin's funeral was slated to be a "celebration" of the soul queen's life, and former President Bill Clinton took that label seriously.

Franklin, who died at 76 earlier this month, was honored Friday with a glitzy memorial service that went far beyond its planned six hours. While Ariana Grande brought the pop and Rev. Al Sharpton took on the political, Clinton opted for a personal reflection on Franklin's influential career.

Clinton said that he and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "started out not as a president and a first lady ... but as Aretha groupies" in the years after they graduated from college. And after Franklin performed at his inauguration celebration in 1993, that fandom turned into friendship. They bonded as Franklin became "the composer of her own life song," Clinton said, and he made sure to take note of what she was wearing along the way.

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Clinton and Franklin's jokes lasted right up until what turned out to be Franklin's last show. Even though Franklin was obviously ailing from pancreatic cancer, she "summoned" Clinton backstage, stood up, and asked "How're you doing, baby?," he recalled. Then, Clinton said, she powered through "not one song, not two songs," but a whole 45-minute performance.

A spectacular show was the perfect end to the queen's career, a fact Clinton made obvious by giving Franklin the last word in his eulogy as well. Kathryn Krawczyk

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.