Aretha Franklin was in Muscle Shoals, Alabama today (January 24, 1967), where she laid down her legendary song “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).”
Shortly after Aretha Franklin signed with Atlantic in 1966, the label’s founder/producer Jerry Wexler requested that Aretha Franklin record a slow blues song.
She went down to the Alabama music studio, FAME Studios, which had the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section musicians had been cranking out hits for artists like Etta James, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett and others.
This particular session was to be memorable for all involved, not only for the two legendary recordings that the session produced, but for the altercation that took place during the recording.
In a span of two hours, Aretha Franklin had sat at the piano and recorded “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” and all involved with the recording say it was a hair-raising experience.
The trumpet player allegedly used abcasual racial slur, which did not sit well with Ted White, who also made accusations that someone was flirting with his wife.
What happened next is not clear, since all parties involved have given conflicting reports, while Aretha Franklin herself claims not to remember.
Some reports say gunshots were fired, others say Ted White assaulted the trumpet player, but either way the session was ruined and Aretha fled to her motel room.
FAME’s owner, Rick Hall went to Aretha Franklin’s motel room to try and defuse the situation, but it only got worse.
Ted White and Rick Hall got into a dispute, where racial slurs were hurled back and forth between both men.
Then, the dispute arose into a physical altercation, which ended in a lobby, where a wedding reception was in progress.
Because of the racial tension of the times and threats made in anger, Aretha Franklin and Ted White decided to leave Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Aretha Franklin ended up in New York, where she secluded herself for over two weeks.
When she finally emerged and showed up Atlantic’s recording studio on 56th Street, she laid down the B-Side “Do Right Woman – Do Right Man.”
Aretha Franklin recorded the song with musicians from Muscle Shoals, whom Jerry Wexler had flown in to New York, specifically for the session.
The result was a double-sided, debut hit for Aretha Franklin.
“Alcohol played a destructive role,” Aretha Franklin said of her marriage to Ted White, which ended in 1969.
“Drinking ultimately damaged and finally destroyed, our relationship,” the Queen of Soul said.