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How Smokey Robinson met Aretha Franklin, his childhood friend and "ace"

Smokey Robinson remembers Aretha Franklin
Smokey Robinson remembers Aretha Franklin 05:21

While we will always remember Aretha Franklin as the "Queen of Soul," legendary Motown musician Smokey Robinson will remember her as one of his oldest friends. They met long before they were stars, growing up in the same neighborhood in Detroit.

"In Detroit, we lived in the hood. In the hood-hood, OK? But in the middle of that were these two plush blocks where they had mansions and all that, right in the middle. It was an amazing place. And so they lived on one of those blocks because Rev. C. L. Franklin was of course one of the biggest ministers in the country," Robinson told "CBS This Morning on Friday. "So we went around to see their new house, which was a mansion. We're walking through the house to see and I hear this little voice and a piano playing in this room and this voice come in, and I peek in. And there's Aretha sitting at the piano, playing and singing almost like she did as an adult, but she was probably only about 5 years old. But that's how I first met her."

After a long battle with cancer, Franklin died Thursday at the age of 76 in her home in Detroit.

"She has left us with a musical legacy that kids who haven't even been born yet will get a chance to experience," Robinson said.

The duo grew up in what Robinson called the "Rosa Parks era" and performed together several times throughout their decades-long careers.

"It was always wonderful to do anything with Aretha. Aretha was like I said, my ace. She was my baby. We were really, really close, and to do anything with her was always a joy," Robinson said.

Robinson said he'll miss Franklin's presence the most, as he recalled one of their last conversations.  

"I talked to Aretha about maybe five weeks ago or so, and her plan was, she was going to retire from doing performances, but she was always going to record. She said, 'Smoke, I'm just not going to do any more dates, but I'm going continue to record,'" Robinson said.

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