Since bursting on to the music scene in 1967, Aretha Franklin has churned out classic after classic – “Respect,” “Think,” “Chain of Fools,” “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” – the list is endless.
At age 68, Aretha is back with a new album, “Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love,” due out in May, and a whole new look after losing a tremendous amount of weight.
Now, in Part 1 of Access Hollywood’s Aretha exclusive sit-down interview, the First Lady of Soul revealed to Access’ Shaun Robinson the truth behind the rumors that she had gastric bypass surgery.
“So you have not had gastric bypass surgery?” Shaun asked.
“Definitely not, and would not. And would not!” Aretha told Shaun. “That is a surgery I would never ever, ever, ever, ever [have].”
“Because it’s too scary? Too scary to have that surgery?” Shaun asked.
“Yes,” Aretha responded. “I had a cousin who had that surgery and she turned green and she did pass [on]… that’s something I would never ever do.”
Her cousin’s surgery gone horribly wrong is just one reason Aretha emphatically dismissed reports she underwent gastric bypass surgery in December.
“So how did the weight come off?” Shaun asked.
“From the surgery, but it wasn’t that surgery,” Aretha said. “From the surgery that I had, but it definitely was not the bariatric or what is it, gastric by…? Yeah, I can’t even tell you the correct name of it.”
Aretha prefers to keep the details of her December 2010 surgery private, but the results are drastic.
“Can we put a number on it? 85 pounds you’ve lost?” Shaun asked.
“I’ve lost 85 pounds, but it was gradual, it wasn’t all at once,” Aretha said.
“When you look at pictures of your heavier self, what goes through your mind?” Shaun asked.
”‘You were fat as… You were truly fat.’ That’s… ‘You were too fat for words; this was not you; this was not your normal weight,’ but I did everything I could,” Aretha told Shaun. “I was working like, ‘I don’t know what to get the pounds off,’ and with Jenny Craig I did get off 25 pounds, and so when I say gradually coming off, gradually it was.”
“Can you feel your energy level differently? When I first saw you, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! You must have more energy now!’” Shaun said.
“I do and I do, lighter and more energy, and the doctor did say to me, he said, ‘Mrs. Franklin, you are going to feel better than you have felt maybe in 10 or 15 years… And the surgery that you had is going to add 15 years to your life,’” Aretha recounted.
The weight loss has meant a big dress size change too.
“I think you told me you’re down to a rocking 16?” Shaun asked of Aretha’s rumored size.
“Not quite. I’m going to rock 16, wait till I get to 16. I’m going to rock 16,” she said.