Aretha Franklin's Friends, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, Emotionally Look Back at Her Legacy

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Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder
Manny Hernandez/WireImage / Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images

Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson are opening up about their dearly departed friend, Aretha Franklin.

Franklin passed away on Thursday in Detroit, Michigan, following a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76. During separate appearances via satellite on CBS This Morning Friday, both Wonder and Robinson reminisced about the Queen of Soul

Wonder recalled talking to Franklin about performing a new song -- entitled "The Future" -- together just two months ago. Following that reveal, he broke down while discussing his last visit with her earlier this week. 

"I did want to see her and I decided on Monday I would go. I flew out from L.A. to Detroit and went to see her and spoke with her," Wonder tearfully said. "She wasn’t able to speak back, but her family felt that she could hear me so I just said all the things I wanted to say. [I] told her to say hello to my sister that I lost this year as well."

Wonder also spoke about the legacy that Franklin leaves behind.

"She did incredible music, incredible singer. She touched every genre, every singer was influenced in some way by the way she sang. They will forever be influenced by her because her voice, her emotion. Her sincerity is unforgettable," the 68-year-old singer said. "...The voices I remember most in my life would be Dr. [Martin] King, her voice, and her father, Reverend Franklin. Obviously growing older, I will always remember John Lennon’s song, 'Imagine.' Those are the emotional places."

One of the most famous examples of Franklin's voice was in the song "Respect," which was originally released by Otis Redding but made iconic by the diva.

"I knew 'Respect' from Otis Redding, [but] when I heard her sing it, it was almost like hearing a whole new song. [It's] amazing what she did with the song," he said. "...The greatest gift for me was when I heard her sing 'Until You Come Back to Me,' [which I originally wrote and recorded, but never released]. Someone said, on one of the channels yesterday, that when she sings your song, she takes it. You don't get it back. I don't mind it at all."

Above all, Wonder said that his friend was "just a consistently great human being."

"Even with whatever turmoil that may have been happening in her life, even through her illness, she did not put that on anybody else," Wonder said. "She believed, I think, that most of all she was doing God’s work. And she was. She brought joy to a lot of lives and she will -- her voice and the essence of her -- will long [out]live all of us here right now."

For his part, 78-year-old Robinson discussed meeting Franklin in Detroit when she was about five years old.

"We became friends because she and her family moved to Detroit when I was eight years old," Robinson recalled. "... We went around to see their new house, which was a mansion, and we're walking through the house to see and I hear this little voice and a piano playing somewhere... I peek in and there's Aretha, sitting at the piano, playing and singing, almost like she did as an adult. She was probably only about five years old, but that's how I first met her."

As for the many performances Robinson and Franklin did together, he said that "it was always wonderful to do anything with Aretha."

"Aretha was my ace," he continued. "You know, she was my baby. And so we were really, really close and to do anything with her was always a joy." 

Robinson also appeared on Good Morning America via satellite, where he got more personal about his special bond with the late star.

"I don’t separate the performing part from just the love part. Aretha and I were just tight," Robinson told GMA host Robin Roberts. "And we had a wonderful, wonderful friendship that lasted throughout her entire life and... up until yesterday, Aretha Franklin was my longest friend on earth. All of our other friends that we grew up with were gone."

As much fun as they had performing together, their relationship had little to do with the entertainment industry. 

"We always had a relationship that was almost like had nothing to do with show business... When we were young, we all wanted [success],"  the "Baby Come Close" singer said. "And those of us who were blessed enough to get our wish or our dream to be in show business, we just always had regular relationships. We very seldom when we got together even talked about show business."

Robinson concluded by talking about Franklin outside of her incredible singing, noting both her humor and her talent in the kitchen.

"Aretha had a great sense of humor. She was a very humorous woman," he revealed. "She could throw down in the kitchen. She could make many a meal... Perhaps people didn't know that because they see her show business life and they think, 'Oh Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul.' They don't think about her regular life. She was just a great person, great cook, great woman."

Here's more on Franklin's mark on the world: 

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