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Aretha Franklin In Concert

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty

Aretha Franklin remembers the first time she met Muhammad Ali, before he was famous. She was preparing for a concert in Los Angeles, and she recalled a man yelling, “I’m the Greatest, I’m the Greatest!”

“I was saying, ‘Who is he? Who is this guy?’” she recalled in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. “Of course, later we all became aware of who he was and what he was about.”

Franklin said the pair had a “beautiful relationship,” and paid tribute to her late friend, who died Friday at age 74 after suffering with Parkinson’s disease for years.

Although they were in opposite fields, Ali and Franklin collaborated through the years, at charities and at shows, and she said she went to almost all his fights. Franklin, also 74, recalled a man who was “full of fun, really full of fun.” One of his loves was magic, she said, and he loved to watch it performed, or perform it for others.

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