When Aretha Franklin Saved the 1998 Grammys By Singing Opera

It’s safe to say that the 1998 Grammy Awards was arguably the most action-packed ceremony in the show’s long and illustrious history. Shawn Colvin, Elton John and Bob Dylan all won awards, one artist stole the show. It was Aretha Franklin, but it wasn’t for her rendition of “Respect.” When Grammy Living Legend honoree Luciano Pavarotti contacted the show producers to give them the news that he was too ill to sing his classic song “Nessun Dorma,” the awards ceremony looked to be in an unavoidable chaotic meltdown. Pavarotti was billed as the headline act, but things had gone very wrong. However, producer Ken Ehrlich remembered seeing Aretha Franklin perform the song at the MusiCares dinner earlier in the week as a tribute to Pavarotti and, in a bold move, asked the Queen of Soul to step in for her dear friend at the very last minute. Of course, Franklin agreed. The performance, as we’ve come to expect from Franklin, has been ranked among the greatest in award-show history.