It was 54 years ago Sunday (February 14th, 1967) that the late, great Aretha Franklin recorded her cover version of Otis Redding's “Respect.” Redding had originally recorded the song in 1965, and scored only a moderate hit when it peaked at Number 35. Redding's arrangement was slightly more upbeat and consisted of only verses with no chorus or bridge.
Aretha recorded the song in New York City's Atlantic Studios, playing piano on the track and using the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section — a group of four session musicians who mainly played sessions in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, before later starting their own Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. It was Aretha's idea to use the tape of King Curtis's sax solo from Sam & Dave's “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” — which was recorded the night before at Memphis' Stax Studios — to create a new bridge to the song.
The song's producer Tom Dowd recalled the session: “Aretha said she liked the song, and started running (through it), although Aretha's sister Carolyn (Franklin) was instrumental in the tempo aspect of it, the way they did it with (the) 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' lines . . . It just went by very easily.”