Respect – Aretha Franklin | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 2 weeks) and R&B (#1 for 8 weeks); 1967

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

A chance remark made by Stax session drummer Al Jackson Jr. to Otis Redding played a key role in the creation of an all-time R&B great. One day Otis was going on about his trials when Al wondered why he was complaining.

After all, Otis was out touring all the time and all that he could look for was a little respect when he got home. The resulting song took Otis to #4 R&B in 1965. On February 14th, 1967 Aretha Franklin and the Memphis musicians were in New York – four days after the release of her Atlantic debut, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) – recording her version of Respect.

Aretha’s younger sister, Carolyn, contributed the “sock it to me” breakdown, and older sibling, Emma, helped out on the gospel call-and-response. King Curtis lifted his sax solo from one he’d just done for Sam & Dave’s When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.

Aretha’s cover began its more-than-respectable eight week hold on #1 two weeks after I Never Loved A Man finished its seven week stay.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Jerry Wexler

Lyrics Written by:

  • Otis Redding


  • Won Grammy Awards for Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female – “Respect” in 1968
  • Won Grammy Awards for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording – “Respect” in 1968
  • Inducted to Grammy Hall of Fame