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Aretha Franklin Global 'Respect' For Music ... Dominating The Charts

8/16/2018 11:02 AM PDT

The perfect way to remember Aretha Franklin is through her music ... and the Queen of Soul is now topping the charts on iTunes. 

Aretha has the No. 1 song, "Respect," and the top album, "30 Greatest Hits." She also has 3 more tracks in the Top 10. 

It's not just her songs that are getting major play ... Aretha has the No. 2 music vid, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." The jam features George Michael

The hits keep coming ... Aretha has 3 more tracks in the Top 40, for a total of 7 -- "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" is No. 2; "I Say A Little Prayer" is No. 4; "Chain of Fools" is No. 9; "Think" is No. 14; "Until You Come Back to Me" is No. 24; "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" is No. 36.

As we reported ... Aretha died in her Detroit home Thursday after a long battle with advanced pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Fortunately for us, her music lives on. 

Garry Shandling Leaves Behind $668k Estate, But ... Likely Has Millions More

8/16/2018 11:09 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

At first blush, it appears Garry Shandling left behind an estate of less than a million dollars -- a surprisingly low amount for the mega-successful comedian ... but there's more to the story.

According to new legal docs -- obtained by TMZ -- Shandling had a net worth $668,636 at the time of his death, which was left with the executor of his estate ... his lawyer and friend, Bill Isaacson.

But, there's a catch -- Isaacson is the trustee of a trust Shandling created that's hidden from public view ... a trust that likely contains millions more in assets. 

As we reported with Anthony Bourdain, rich celebs often create these separate trusts for various reasons, including privacy and tax purposes.

That seems to be the case with the late star of "The Larry Sanders Show" as well.

Aretha Franklin Rock & Roll HOF Honors First Woman Ever Inducted

8/16/2018 11:15 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ... and the org has already rolled out a new display to honor the singer. 

Franklin -- who was inducted back in 1987 -- once gifted the HOF a Valentino dress she'd worn at Radio City Music Hall during an appearance in 1979. The Hall put that dress on display as a tribute to the Queen of Soul. 

President and CEO of the Rock Hall, Greg Harris, tells us, "Lady Soul. The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin was an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music. Long live the Queen.”

Unclear how long the dress will be out ... but it's gonna be one of the first of many tributes to one of the greatest singers of all time.

Barack & Michelle Obama Aretha Franklin Gave Us ... 'A Glimpse of the Divine'

8/16/2018 9:34 AM PDT

Barack & Michelle Obama say America has no royalty ... but the Queen of Soul is as close as we get.

The former Prez just weighed in on the passing of the legendary Aretha Franklin, saying from the time she began performing in her father's congregation, "every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine."

Obama adds that Aretha helped define the experience of being an American, helped us feel more hopeful and connected ... and sometimes helped us "just forget about everything else and dance."

And for that ... 44 says Franklin has earned and deserves nothing but our respect.

Aretha's performance at Obama's inauguration in 2009 was powerful and unforgettable ... one of the highlights of an historic day.

Check out Obama's full statement ... which is yet another outpouring of emotion from a celeb honoring the life and impact of the Queen. 

Aretha Franklin Hollywood Star Crowned To Honor Queen of Soul

8/16/2018 8:41 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Aretha Franklin's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has received a fitting tribute in the wake of her death ... a crown to honor the Queen of Soul. 

Franklin's passing Thursday morning sparked a wave of memories and tributes, and fans were quick to flock to Hollywood Boulevard to do their part as well. Unclear who placed the crown, but the meaning is obvious ... Aretha was the Queen of Soul.

As we reported ... Aretha died at her home in Detroit surrounded by friends and family after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Aretha's family released a statement, saying, "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family." 

Franklin was 76. 

Aretha Franklin Outpouring of Emotions by Celebs

8/16/2018 7:27 AM PDT

It's no surprise ... there has been a cascade of grief, sympathy and tributes from celebrities around the world in the wake of Aretha Franklin's passing.

Mary Wilson -- founding member of the Supremes -- tells TMZ, "When God created Soul, he created Aretha Franklin to sing it!"

Gladys Knight wrote Aretha a note, which states, "Well my sister our Father in Heaven has called you home, but we are so very grateful to him for blessing you with such an awesome gift to share with us. Your music set a standard for every single lady in this industry to rise to. You have touched minds, hearts and spirits, including my own."

She continues, "Yes, we are sisters and we squabbled as sisters do, but we also loved, supported and laughed together through our lifetime. I pray you have a smooth journey Ree Ree and hopefully I'll get to sing with you in the Heavenly choir, if I make it. Love you, Gladys"

And the tributes go on:

Best voice ever. Miss you already.

A post shared by Chris Rock (@chrisrock) on

Four Tops Ronnie McNeir Pays Homage in Song to Aretha

8/16/2018 7:52 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Ronnie McNeir, a member of The Four Tops, knew Aretha Franklin well, and says long, long ago he became mesmerized by her amazing voice.

Ronnie says he wrote a song for Aretha -- "Sister Ree" -- and sang it for her last Christmas. He sings part of the song in this clip, with the words ...

   Sister Rer
   Greatest in this Century

Ronnie says Aretha loved the song so much ... she said she wanted it included in her upcoming biopic.  BTW, Aretha will be played by Jennifer Hudson.

Ronnie, like all of us, has a favorite Aretha song.

Aretha Franklin The Queen Dies the Same Day ... As the King

8/16/2018 7:58 AM PDT

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died on the same day as Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, 41 years later ... and it's both weird and fitting.

Aretha's passing fell on Elvis' 41st death anniversary -- August 16, 1977 -- albeit under extremely different circumstances.

As we reported ... Aretha died in her Detroit home after being placed in hospice care earlier in the week. She'd been suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, and had been gravely ill in the days leading up to her death. The singer was 76 years old. 

As for Elvis, he died of a heart attack. He was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his Graceland home in Memphis, TN.

The two singers proved to be American icons and international fixtures in pop culture. In honor of their passings ... RIP to the Queen and King.

Aretha Franklin Detroit Lions Pay Tribute

8/16/2018 7:59 AM PDT
Breaking News

The Detroit Lions are remembering the city's greatest singer -- sending their "deepest condolences to the family and friends of Aretha Franklin."

The Lions tweeted out, "Aretha was a groundbreaker and an icon whose legacy will live on forever."

Aretha famously busted out a FOUR-AND-A-HALF MINUTE rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at a Lions game on Thanksgiving 2016 ... one of the greatest National Anthem performances ever. 

Former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas also showed Aretha some love -- tweeting, "Rest In Peace dear friend, I will remember your wisdom, laughter and music you gave us. #aintnoway #natuaralwoman #sayalittleprayerforyou."

The Detroit Tigers honored Aretha by posting a tribute on their video board ... with the message "Forever our queen."

ESPN's Jemele Hill -- who's from Detroit -- also weighed in ... saying, "Rest in power, Aretha. You were not only the Queen of Soul, but a warrior, a survivor, an icon, and a protector. You are Detroit’s heartbeat. Rest well, Queen."

Hill added, "Aretha was Detroit’s sister, auntie, momma, Queen and homegirl — all in one career. There are few people that defend, honor and protect someone the way we did Aretha. You can talk about our economy, and our crime, but say something about Re-Re, and you’ll get dealt with. Quick."

Aretha died Thursday. She was 76

Travis Scott Sends Cash to Fan ... To Help with Mom's Funeral

8/16/2018 12:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Travis Scott's surprise cash handout isn't just a fun thing for his fans ... it's touching lives and helping people in need too.

Case in point ... Peter Valdriz, who replied to Travis' $100k Twitter giveaway announcement Tuesday -- in which fans were encouraged to tweet their Cash App tag with lyrics from "Astroworld" for a chance to get money. Peter pleaded his case by saying the dough would help with his mom's funeral cost.

Minutes later ... the rapper sent him $800 with a personal message saying he hopes it helps.

Peter tells TMZ ... his mother passed away last week after a battle with a brain virus and complications that followed. He says the gift from Travis came on what would have been her 52nd birthday and will go toward the expenses for her funeral next week.

He tells us Scott's donation really means a lot to him and his entire family, saying ... "Knowing that someone is out there trying to help us during this difficult time means the world to us."

He adds ... "I personally want to thank Travis Scott for really making a tough day for my family into a day we can cherish."

There's more -- Peter tells us Travis' gift has inspired other "generous and kindhearted" strangers to chip in to help with his mom's funeral as well.

Pretty amazing what a tweet can do.

'My 600-lb Life' Star LB Bonner Hung Up on 911 Before Suicide ... Mom Called Too

8/14/2018 10:28 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

LB Bonner called 911 before he shot himself, but the operator couldn't help him out because she couldn't hear him ... according to the audio.

The former "My 600-lb Life" star can be heard trying to give his location on the call -- obtained by TMZ -- but hangs up after the dispatcher explains she's having difficulty understanding him. She then tries to call him back ... but it goes straight to voicemail.

L.B.'s mother also called 911, saying he'd been posting threats about hurting himself online and she's afraid he's going to "do something stupid." According to his mom ... L.B. reached out to many people -- including producers of the show -- about his suicidal thoughts, but then nobody could reach him.

We broke the story ... Bonner's death was ruled a suicide by the coroner, from a self-inflicted single gunshot wound to the head.

Bonner appeared in last season's "My 600-lb Life" ... which documented his journey as he dropped more than 300 pounds.

He was 30.

Jim Neidhart Collapsed from Apparent Seizure ... Banged Head

8/13/2018 1:55 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart's wife told emergency personnel the ex-WWE superstar collapsed while appearing to have a seizure early Monday morning ... and slammed his head when he fell to the ground. 

Elizabeth Neidhart told investigators Jim was having difficulty sleeping and got out of bed to change the thermostat. But, when Jim went to touch it, he "turned weirdly as if he were about to dance."

"He then fell towards the wall and ground," the investigation report says. 

Elizabeth called 911 thinking he was having a seizure since he "suffers from seizures and takes medication for it."

Neidhart's wife says Jim's last seizure was Dec. 2017 -- and she notes doctors also believed he may have had Alzheimer's as well. 

When officials arrived to Jim's home -- they found the 63-year-old on the floor with a 4-inch gash on his face. 

Investigators found medication at the home, but note "none of the medication appeared to have been abused."

He was pronounced dead a short time later. 

Bethenny Frankel Sobs At Boyfriend's Burial

8/13/2018 7:29 AM PDT

10:07 AM PT -- Bethenny just posted a photo of Dennis lying beside her dog, Cookie, with a farewell message to both, saying ... "Rest In Peace my sweet babies who gave me endless unconditional love." Cookie died late last year after suffering a major seizure.

Rest In Peace my sweet babies who gave me endless unconditional love. #nowandforever

A post shared by Bethenny Frankel (@bethennyfrankel) on

Bethenny Frankel was extremely emotional Monday during a final goodbye to her boyfriend, who died Friday of an overdose.

Dennis Shields was found dead in his apartment in Trump Tower from an apparent oxycodone OD. Law enforcement sources told us Dennis took an unknown quantity of oxy Thursday night which he had prescribed to him. He woke up Friday feeling ill and asked his housekeeper to go to the pharmacy and buy Narcan -- which counters the effects of opioids. When the housekeeper returned home, Dennis was beyond help.

We're told Bethenny is inconsolable.

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