Disco queen Donna Summer (born LaDonna Adrian Gaines) has passed away early this morning (May 17, 2012). She was 63 years old.
According to her publicist, Brian Edwards, Summer died of cancer in Naples, Florida. Her family released a statement earlier today saying Summer had died and that they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”‘
TMZ first broke the news, stating that Summer had been working on music for a new album.
Forever known as the “Queen of Disco,” Summer was born in 1948 in Boston, Mass.
One of seven children, the soulful diva was was raised on gospel music and became the soloist in her church choir by the young age of 10.
The five-time Grammy winner rose to fame in the 1970s, with hits like “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.” She co-wrote the single “Love to Love You Baby” in 1975, and went on to co-write several other hits, including “She Works Hard For Her Money.”
“Love to Love You Baby” was her U.S. chart debut and the first of 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 – second only to Madonna.
During the disco era, Summer was the only artist to have three consecutive double-LPs hit No. 1, “Live and More,” “Bad Girls” and “On the Radio.”
Summer was also the first female artist with four No. 1 singles in a 13-month period, according to the Rock Hall of Fame, where she was a nominee this year. She released a number of albums that have reached gold or platinum status, including the multiplatinum “Bad Girls” and “On the Radio, Volume I & II.” Her No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits include “Hot Stuff” and “MacArthur Park.”
Summer also appeared in the 1978 film, “Thank God It’s Friday,” which took home the best original song Oscar for “Last Dance.”
The singer came to prominence just as disco was burgeoning, and came to define the era with a string of No. 1 hits and her beauty queen looks.
But unlike some other stars of disco who faded as the music became less popular, she was able to grow beyond it and later segued to a pop-rock sound. She had one of her biggest hits in the 1980s with “She Works Hard For The Money,” which became another anthem, this time for women’s rights.
Soon after, Summer became a born-again Christian and faced controversy when she was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the AIDS epidemic. Summer denied making the comments, but was the target of a boycott.
Summer’s last album, “Crayons,” came out in 2008. She also performed on “American Idol” that year with its top female contestants. In 2010, Summer appeared on “America’s Got Talent.”
Her sound was a mix of genres and helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.
Summer is survived by her husband, Bruce Sudano, the lead singer of Brooklyn Dreams, whom she had met while making the single “Heaven Knows” in the 80’s and their two two children, Brooklyn and Amanda.
What was YOUR favorite Donna Summer song?