‘Queen of Disco’ Donna Summer dies, aged 63

Agence France-Presse
Donna Summer died Thursday, May 17, after a battle with lung cancer

PASSED AWAY. American singer Donna Summer dies of cancer. In this file photo, she performs during the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo Spektrum, December 2009. AFP photo

LOS ANGELES, United States of America – Grammy-winning disco legend Donna Summer died Thursday, May 17, after a battle with lung cancer, aged 63, her family and media reports said.

Known as the Queen of Disco, the singer, whose 1970s and 80s hits included “I Feel Love,” “Love to Love you Baby” and “She Works Hard for the Money,” died in Florida, the TMZ celebrity news website said.

“Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith,” said a family statement.

“While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time.”

TMZ reported that she died of lung cancer, citing sources as saying she believed she contracted it after inhaling toxic particles following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York.

Tributes started pouring in within hours of death on Twitter, where it became one of the top trending topics, with “I Feel Love” as a separate

“RIP Donna Summers!!!!!!!!!??. You were truly a game changer!!!” tweeted singer Mary J Blige, while actress Roseanne Barr said: “RIP donna summer-dead at 63 she works hard for the money was my fave song.”

La Toya Jackson, sister of the late King of Pop Michael Jackson whose career took off with the Jackson Five at the same time, tweeted: “My condolence to #Donna Summer’s family & love ones. She will be terribly missed.

“She was truly the #Disco Queen!” she said.

Summer, who also became something of an icon in the gay community, shot to fame during the disco era of the 1970s with hits like “MacArthur Park,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.”

The orgasmic-sounding “Love to Love You Baby,” released in 1975, was one of the first disco songs to be released in extended form, giving full vent to Summer’s erotic moans and groans.

In the 1980s her hits included “She Works Hard for the Money” and “State of Independence.”

The disco diva was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines into a large devoutly Christian family in Boston and started singing in the local church, before performing in a number of Motown-influenced groups in her teens.

Summer took her stage name after marrying Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer in 1972, anglicizing her name after divorcing him. She spoke fluent German and the couple had a daughter, Mimi Sommer.

The singer won five Grammy awards during her spectacular career, including in 1980 for best rock female vocalist for the 1979 “Hot Stuff,” but also as recently as 1997 for best dance recording for “Carry On.”

She holds the record for most consecutive double albums to top the Billboard charts — three — and first female with four #1 singles in a 12-month period, three solo and one with Barbra Streisand, according to the IMDb website.

TMZ reported that she had kept her illness quiet, and didn’t appear too sick only a couple of weeks ago, citing sources as saying she was focused on trying to finish a new album she had been working on.

She married singer Bruce Sudano in 1980, and they had two daughters together, it said. – Agence France-Presse

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