Aretha Franklin, the “queen of soul” known for hits like Respect and Think, has died in Detroit at the age of 76. The legendary singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and announced last year that she was retiring from music. Franklin had more than 20 US number ones over a career spanning seven decades. She gave her final performance last November at a gala in New York held in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation.

In a statement, her family said: “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. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds.” The family also confirmed her death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. Born in Memphis to a gospel singer/pianist and a celebrated Baptist preacher, Franklin was tutored from an early age by such gospel stars as Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward.

She struggled to find fame in the early years, with record label Columbia unsure how to frame her impressively powerful voice. Sir Elton John led the tributes on his Instagram account, writing: “The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music. “Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated… I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends.”  Annie Lennox said: “She has reigned supreme. and will always be held in the highest firmament of stars as the most exceptional vocalist, performer and recording artist the world has ever been privileged to witness.