Aretha Louise Franklin dealt with weight issues for years. In 1974, she dropped 40 pounds (18 kg) during a crash diet and maintained her new weight until the end of the decade. She again lost weight in the early 1990s, before gaining some back. A former chain smoker who struggled with alcoholism, she quit smoking in 1992. She admitted in 1994 that her smoking was "messing with my voice", but after quitting smoking she said later, in 2003, that her weight "ballooned".
In 2010, Franklin canceled a number of concerts, after she decided to have surgery for an undisclosed tumor. Discussing the surgery in 2011, she quoted her doctor as saying that it would "add 15 to 20 years" to her life. She denied that the ailment had anything to do with pancreatic cancer, as had been rumored. On May 19, 2011, Franklin had her comeback show in the Chicago Theatre. In May 2013, she canceled two performances to deal with an undisclosed medical treatment. Later the same month, she canceled three June concerts and planned to return to perform in July. A show scheduled for July 27 in Clarkston, Michigan was canceled due to continued medical treatment. In addition, she canceled an appearance at a Major League Baseball luncheon in Chicago honoring her commitment to civil rights on August 24. She also canceled a performance of September 21 in Atlanta due to her health recovery.During a phone interview with the Associated Press in late August 2013, Franklin stated that she had a "miraculous" recovery from her undisclosed illness but had to cancel shows and appearances until her health was at 100%, estimating she was about "85% healed". Franklin later returned to live performing, including a 2013 Christmas concert at Detroit's MotorCity Casino Hotel. She launched a multi-city tour in mid-2014, starting with a performance on June 14 in New York at Radio City Music Hall.
In 2017, Franklin canceled a series of concerts due to health reasons. During an outdoor Detroit show, she asked the audience to "keep me in your prayers". In July 2017, Franklin reemerged, appearing to have lost more weight before a performance at the Wolf Trapin Virginia. In 2018, she canceled a series of shows, citing doctor's orders. Franklin's final performance was at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City during Elton John's 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on November 7, 2017.
On August 13, 2018, Franklin was reported to be gravely ill at her home in Riverfront Towers, Detroit.She was reported to be under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family. Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson, and ex-husband Glynn Turman, among others, visited her on her deathbed. Franklin died at her home on August 16, 2018, aged 76. The cause was reported to be pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor. Numerous celebrities in the entertainment industry and politicians paid tribute to Franklin, including former U.S. president Barack Obama who said she "helped define the American experience". Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton called her a "civil rights and humanitarian icon".
A private funeral was arranged for August 31, following a two-day public viewing of Franklin's casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.