Donna Summer, queen of disco, dies aged 63
DONNA Summer, the queen of disco who provided the soundtrack to the late 70s and early 80s with a string of hits including I Feel Love and Love To Love You Baby, has died after a battle with cancer. She was 63.
Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the US Billboard chart, and also had four number-one singles in the US within 13 months.
A statement issued on behalf of her family yesterday read: “Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith.
“While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”
Summer who died in Key West, Florida, is believed to have tried to keep the seriousness of her illness from her fans while she completed her latest album.
In recent years she had struggled with deep depression triggered by the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001 in New York.
Last night, a host of celebrities posted condolence messages online.
Gloria Estefan wrote: “Few singers have impacted music and the world like Donna Summer. It’s the end of an era. Peace and prayers to all who loved her. I will miss her!”
LaToya Jackson wrote: “My condolences to Donna Summer’s family and loved ones. She will be terribly missed. She was truly the Disco Queen!”
The five-time Grammy Award winner was born LaDonna Gaines in Boston and began singing in church choirs as an eight-year-old.
Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Massachusetts in 1948, Summer began her career as a backing singer, releasing her first solo album in 1974, and released 17 studio albums, including a number that have reached gold or platinum status, such as the multiplatinum Bad Girls and On the Radio, Volume I & II.
In her 20s she was appearing on stage in Germany performing in productions of the shows Hair and Porgy and Bess and worked as a studio session singer.
But her big breakthrough came in 1975 with the international hit Love To Love You Baby, produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte.
It led to more worldwide hits including I Feel Love, MacArthur Park, Hot Stuff and Dim All the Lights as well as the Grammy and Academy award-winning theme song Last Dance from the film Thank God It’s Friday.
In 1980 David Geffen signed her for his new label signalling a change of style for the disco diva.
But she faced controversy when she was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the Aids epidemic. She denied making the comments and was the target of a boycott, but continued to record, achieving a top 20 hit with State of Independence in 1982 – which featured Michael Jackson on backing vocals – and the feminist anthem She Works Hard For The Money. Summer was also an acclaimed visual artist whose work has been featured at exhibitions worldwide. She is survived by her second husband Bruce Sudano, three daughters and four grandchildren.
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