Music | Celebrity

Four Tops Singer Reveals Aretha Franklin's Last Words

(Left) Broadway/Bruce Glikas/ (Right) Wikimedia Commons/Joe Ortunazer

When we're told someone has passed away, there are a number of questions that come to mind, including "How did they die?" and "What were their last words?"

There's something haunting about the final words someone utters before they depart this world for good. Some people even put some thought into what they'd like to say when that time comes, but no one ever really knows until they're in the those last moments of their life.

Over the course of time, we've come to learn the final words of many famous people, like Princess Diana and Robin Williams, and in many ways, it paints a picture of what those surreal, final moments must've been like for them.

Now, we can add the words of another beloved celebrity - Aretha Franklin - to the list.

The legendary singer passed away at  the age of 76 on August 16 after a long, secret battle with pancreatic cancer. In the week leading up to her death, Franklin's family was told to "prepare yourself" after she experienced a rapid health decline.

Her loved ones and close friends rushed to her side, and those who couldn't physically be there were quick to call.

Singer Steve Wonder was among the first to visit Franklin on her death bed, revealing the last words he said to her.

"She wasn't able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me, and so I just said all the things that I've always said and told her to say hello to my sister – that I lost this year as well," Wonder said on CBS This Morning.

Four Tops singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir was another artist and friend, who had the chance to speak with the "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" singer shortly before she died. In an interview with Associated Press, he not only opened up about his close relationship with the Queen of Soul, he also shared what he believed were her last words ever.

Fakir, who always considered Franklin his "Baby Sis," recalled a phone conversation they had, during which he was told by her family that she had been unresponsive and "not really saying anything."

However, by some miracle, Fakir was able to get one word out of Franklin, and it's the last thing she said to anyone.

Abdul "Duke" FakirYouTube

Fakir, 82, recalled:

"So, I was ... telling her how much I missed seeing her, not being there by her side. And they said her eyes opened, and she said, 'Bernadette.' And that was the last word she ever said, they said.

That was her favorite song by the Tops, by the way, 'Bernadette.' So, to have been on her lips, the last word she said. That's more than honorable. That's precious, you know?"

"Bernadette" was released by the Four Tops in 1967, the same year Franklin shot to fame with four number one singles. The band's song eventually reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 3 on the soul chart.

You can take a listen to it right here:

Unfortunately, Fakir is the only surviving member of the Four Tops. After losing so many people close to him, he recently made the decision to stop attending funerals.

However, he made an exception and was present for Franklin's private funeral, which took place on August 31 at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple.

She was finally laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery, after the eight-hour service, and four days of open-casket viewings in the days leading up to her interment.

No matter how much time has passed, Franklin will always be missed.

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.