Gladys Knight revealed that she “had the same disease” as Aretha Franklin, but one of her representatives quickly refuted the claim.
Knight, 74, attended the Queen of Soul’s funeral Friday, and when she stopped for a TV interview to discuss her friend, Knight said the last meeting between her and Franklin revealed that they were suffering from the same illness. Franklin died on Aug. 16 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.
Knight said their last meeting came by chance when they unknowingly were staying at the same hotel. After finding out about each other’s presence, Knight said Franklin requested if they could visit immediately, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“I went down. I said, ‘ReRe, what you doing out here?’ And we just got to talking and everything and at that time we shared that fact that we had the same disease,” said Knight.”
But Knight’s publicist later told the Detroit News that Knight “does not have pancreatic cancer. She is fine.”
The Hollywood Reporter quotes Knight’s publicist as saying, “Maybe she meant she feels her pain. But she does not have cancer.”
Knight was one of Franklin’s peers. She and her backing group, the Pips, were enshrined into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Franklin in 1987 became the first female artist to join the hall.
“We lost our queen,” said Knight during her TV interview. “And she’s my sister and she’s family.”
“I didn’t want her to suffer and it’s not our business,” she added. “It’s the Lord’s business. You know, he calls us when we’re supposed to come home and she has done more than her share of using that gift that she was blessed with and I’m just glad to be here to honor her at this time.”