Sir Elton John didn't think Aretha Franklin would be able to perform her final show.

Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John

The Queen of Soul - who died of cancer in August - gave her last performance at the 71-year-old singer's annual gala in aid of his AIDS Foundation last November and the 'Rocket Man' hitmaker was stunned by the way she "raised the roof" at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine because she looked so ill.

Speaking at this year's gala, Elton said: "I honestly didn't know how she could possibly perform in the physical condition I saw her in.

"And she did perform. She raised the roof.

"I think it's because she was inspired by being in the cathedral. She went to church. She went back to where she came from and she raised the roof, and she sang, and she played, and she made us all weep. She gave us the performance of a lifetime."

And the 'Candle in the Wind' singer - who was reduced to tears by the 'Son of a Preacher Man' hitmaker's set - doesn't think there'll ever be another performer like Aretha.

He added: "You don't see greatness like that very often, and we will never see it again."

The evening saw an auction take place to raise money for the foundation, and it included a successful $100,000 bid for a photo from Aretha's final performance.

Another popular lot was an original painting by Tony Bennett, which sold for almost $200,000.

In total, the gala raised $3.9 million, which will go to various organisations working to end HIV and AIDS, in particular in underrepresented communities.

Elton previously paid a heartfelt tribute to Aretha following her death at the age of 76.

He tweeted: "The loss of @ArethaFranklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated - she was one of my favourite pianists.

"I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance - a benefit for @ejaf at St John The Divine Cathedral. She was obviously unwell, and I wasn't sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof. She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends. We shared the same birthday - and that meant so much to me. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. #RIPArethaFranklin