27 Dec: Best of 2023: The Counterfeit Queen of Soul

This week we’re revisiting our favourite episodes of 2023, and Rebecca has chosen to replay our episode from 15th February, the day in 1969 when Mary Jane Jones – known professionally as Vickie Jones – was arrested on fraud charges after successfully impersonating soul legend Aretha Franklin during multiple sold-out shows across Florida.

When her case ended up before a judge, Jones maintained her innocence, insisting that she had been press-ganged into the deception by conman, kidnapper and semi-professional James Brown impersonator, Lavelle Hardy. 

In this episode, The Retrospectors look at the surprising similarities between the lives of Jones and Franklin; discuss why audiences in the 1960s couldn’t tell real performers from fake ones; and ponder whether Jones deserves a little more R.E.S.P.E.C.T…  

We’ll be back with new episodes from January 1st. In the meantime, to support the show and unlock over 100 bonus bits, join 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴at https://patreon.com/Retrospectors.

Further Reading:

• ‘An Aretha Franklin Impersonator Fooled Fans (Then Became A Star)’ (Cracked, 2022): https://www.cracked.com/article_34398_an-aretha-franklin-impersonator-fooled-fans-then-became-a-star.html

• ‘The Counterfeit Queen of Soul’ (Smithsonian magazine, 2018): 

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/counterfeit-queen-soul-180969340/