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Honouring our icons

ICONS: Aretha Franklin and Clarence 'Count Prince' Miller

THE PASSING of two giants of the entertainment and showbiz landscape rocked our world last week, and on both sides of the Atlantic.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died in Detroit, Michigan after a battle with pancreatic cancer, while Clarence ‘Count Prince’ Miller, a man of extraordinaire talent of stage and TV fame, died in London, also after a battle with cancer. Both passed away on the same day – August 16.

Aretha Franklin’s passing will no doubt have the bigger impact of the two as her music was loved around the world. There are not many people who do not have an Aretha Franklin record in their music collection as she produced so many time-honoured songs which will resonate with also every aspect of life.

From the Civil Rights movement to social justice, Aretha Franklin had dedicated her life to trying to eradicate the boundaries of race, culture, gender and nationality. Her song Respect has been de- scribed as an inspirational anthem in the Civil Rights and feminist movements. So too has her global hit (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Clarence Miller, or ‘Count Prince’ Miller, as he was fondly known, was a star of the stage and lm, whether performing his iconic record Mule Train, compering at ground-breaking events like the Caribbean Music Festivals at Wembley, London in 1969 and 1970 or his acting roles as Marcus Garvey in the stage musical Black Heroes in The Hall Of Fame and his occasional appearance as Vince in the popular Channel 4 black sitcom Desmond’s.

Miller’s biggest claim to fame was his associa- tion the James Bond movies in which he had a brief role in Dr. No, the first film in the franchise, where he made an appearance with the band in the Jamaican nightclub scene when James Bond star Sean Connery is accosted by a news photographer.

Miller came to England in 1964 with The Vagabonds on what was a pioneering tour which introduced a new type of music, setting the stage for Jamaican entertainers to target Britain as their next musical frontier.

The lights have gone out on two great legends, but their memories will live on forever.

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