16 August: A day to remember music royalty

Four of the most important artists in the history of music happen to share the same anniversary date: 16th August. Here, we've chosen a track by each of them to listen to on a great day to remember music royalty.

Aretha Franklin

‘The Queen of Soul’

(25 March 1942 – 16 August 2018, aged 76)

A gifted singer and pianist, Aretha Franklin started her career by touring with her father’s traveling revival show and later visited New York, where she signed with Columbia Records. Franklin went on to release several popular singles, many of which are now considered classics. In 1987 she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2008 she won her 18th Grammy Award, making her one of the most honoured artists in Grammy history.

Elvis Presley

‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’

(8 January 1935 – 16 August 1977, aged 42)

Elvis Presley came from very humble beginnings and grew up to become one of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll. By the mid-1950s, he appeared on the radio, television and the silver screen. On August 16, 1977, at age 42, he died of heart failure, which was related to his drug addiction. Since his death, Presley has remained one of the world’s most popular music icons.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

‘The Emperor of Qawwali’

(13 October 1948 – 16 August 1997, aged 48)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a Pakistani singer who is considered one of the greatest ever performers of qawwali, a Sufi Muslim devotional music characterised by simple melodies, forceful rhythms, and energetic improvisations that encourage a state of euphoria in the listener. Khan believed in the universality of the musical message and strove throughout his career to make his music transcend religious and cultural boundaries. When he died suddenly in 1997, Nusrat was mourned by fans across the globe.

Robert Johnson

‘King of the Delta Blues Singers’

(8 May 1911 – 16 August 1938, aged 27)

Robert Johnson is considered to be one of the greatest blues performers of all time. His hits include “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and “Sweet Home Chicago,” which has become a blues standard. Part of his mythology is a story of how he gained his musical talents by making a bargain with the devil. He died at age 27 as the suspected victim of a deliberate poisoning.

Featured release:

  • Live at WOMAD 1985

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

    Released 23 July 2019

    A remarkable record of a magical event that changed the perception of Sufi music to a wider audience and set Nusrat on a path to international recognition of his genius. The power and beauty of Nusrat’s voice comes rushing back through the years and lifts us up to the ecstatic heights of Sufi expression.

By Oran Mullan

Published on Sun, 16 August 20

Further reading

‘Mangled Pianos’ by Bob Holroyd, new on Real World X

New music from acclaimed artist and composer Bob Holroyd on Real World X.

Announcing Palabras Urgentes: the new album by Susana Baca

Afro-Peruvian icon Susana Baca celebrates 50 years in music with this forceful musical statement.

A Lantern and a Bell: Track by Track

Emil Svanängen a.k.a. Loney dear and producer Emanuel Lundgren discuss the new album.

Nick Page (1960-2021)

Nick's work can be heard on albums by Dub Colossus, Syriana, Los de Abajo and Temple of Sound.