Elton John, left, and David Furnish attend the Elton John AIDS Foundation's 17th annual "An Enduring Vision" benefit gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Elton John remembers Aretha Franklin at his annual AIDS gala

November 06, 2018 - 3:23 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Elton John says he stood by the stage and sobbed as Aretha Franklin gave her final public performance at his AIDS foundation gala last year.

On the red carpet this time around, John called her show "one of the greatest performances of our lifetime." Franklin died in August at age 76.

This year's gala Monday night for the Elton John AIDS Foundation raised $3.9 million.

While the foundation has been a leader in the fight against AIDS, the theme was civility. John said from the podium at a grand Midtown ballroom that he's worried about America because "we live in perilous times." The Grammy-winning superstar called on Americans to help all people feel like they belong.

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