Entertainment Music From Aretha Franklin to Beyoncé: How Harlem's Iconic Apollo Theater Gave Rise to Black Stars for 85 Years The legendary Apollo Theater has been a platform for iconic African American stars for decades By Darlene Aderoju Darlene Aderoju PEOPLE, Music Writer and Reporter People Editorial Guidelines Published on November 11, 2019 06:00 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 16 The Apollo Theater Getty The legendary Apollo Theater has been a platform for iconic African American stars for decades. Once shut down, it is now forever immortalized as part of the National Museum of American History. From Aretha Franklin to Destiny's Child, Ray Charles and The Temptations to JAY-Z and Nas, see the icons who have hit the famous stage through the years. 02 of 16 Michael Jackson TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Gety Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, helped kick off a nationwide voter registration drive by opening for the Democratic National Committee benefit concert on April 24, 2002 at the Apollo. 03 of 16 Ray Charles Jack Vartoogian/Getty Ray Charles, known as the Father of Soul, performed with the Philip Morris Superband at the Apollo on Nov. 10, 1990. Despite his inability to see, the icon made waves with his legendary music. 04 of 16 De La Soul David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty David Jude Jolicoeur, Kevin Mercer and and Vincent Mason of the hit hip-hop group De La Soul stood outside of the theater in September 1993. 05 of 16 Miles Davis and Paul Chambers Herb Snitzer/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Miles Davis, an acclaimed jazz musician, performed with influential bassist Paul Chambers at the Apollo in 1960. 06 of 16 Tracy Morgan Mike Coppola/Getty Tracy Morgan, comedian and actor, attended the live taping of Spike's One Night Only: Alec Baldwin at The Apollo Theater on June 25, 2017. 07 of 16 Nat King Cole and Maria Hawkins Ellington ERIC SCHWAB/AFP/Getty Nat King Cole, jazz legend and pianist, sat in his box at the Apollo with his wife Maria Hawkins Ellington in the 1950s. 08 of 16 Wilson Pickett Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Wilson Pickett, a chart-topping singer-songwriter, spent time relaxing backstage at the Apollo Theater on Sept. 8, 1966. 09 of 16 Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin. Mychal Watts/WireImage Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul, hit the Apollo theater stage for an unforgettable performance in 2006. This marked her first time returning to the famous theater in 20 years. 10 of 16 JAY-Z and Nas Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic JAY-Z and Nas, both hip-hop legends, hit the stage for a dynamic duo performance during JAY-Z's Concert at The Apollo on Nov. 13, 2007. 11 of 16 Smokey Robinson and The Temptations Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Smokey Robinson, singer-songrwiter and the founder and frontman of the Motown vocal group the Miracles, rehearsed the hit song "My Girl" with The Temptations in their dressing room at the Apollo Theater in 1964. 12 of 16 Snoop Dogg mark peterson/Corbis/Getty Snoop Dogg, a game-changing rapper, took a moment of reflection at the historic Apollo Theater in the 1990s. 13 of 16 Destiny's Child: Beyoncé, Michelle Williams, Solange Knowles and Kelly Rowland David Surowiecki/Getty Beyoncé, Michelle Williams, Solange Knowles and Kelly Rowland stood backstage before their showtime at the turn of the century in 2000. At the time, Beyoncé's sister Knowles was a background dancer for the group. 14 of 16 Bruno Mars Michelle Crowe/CBS/Getty Bruno Mars used the Apollo's iconic marquee as his stage during his televised 24K Magic concert special in 2017. 15 of 16 Gladys Knight & The Pips with friends David Reed/Redferns Gladys Knight & The Pips enjoyed time backstage at the Apollo in 1973 along with friends. Many legendary performers kicked back behind-the-scenes at the iconic venue. 16 of 16 Steve Harvey FOX Image Collection/Getty Steve Harvey, actor, comedian and television host, stood alongisde contestants from the group Fresh The Clowns during a live taping of Showtime at the Apollo in 2017.