Disco Queen Donna Summer dead at 63
Queen of Disco Donna Summer died Thursday morning in Naples, Fl. at the age of 63.
A source close to the singer confirmed she died from cancer, but declined to comment on early reports saying the singer blamed her illness on toxic fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks. “The funeral will be in Nashville,” said the source.
“Early this morning, surrounded by family, 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,” read a statement issued by “The Sudano Family” via the singer’s publicist, Brian Edwards. Her second husband, Bruce Sudano, was at her bedside, Edwards added.
Summer, a mezzo soprano, was, as producer Quincy Jones tweeted Thursday, “the heartbeat and soundtrack of a decade.” Numerous other celebs took to the Twitterverse to lament her passing, with Kylie Minogue saying she was “one of my earliest musical inspirations” and director Adam Shankman remarking that “tonight, after my prayers, I will dance the last dance and think of you.”
Summer told Vanity Fair magazine in a story published February 2010 she was trying to channel Marilyn Monroe when she recorded her orgasmic 1975 break out hit, “Love to Love You Baby.” She made the recording on a dare, eventually winding up on the floor moaning and writhing around. “It was a joke that worked,” observed Summer, who had previously worked as a back up singer for Three Dog Night and as a performer in German operas and musicals. The song found its way from the dance floors of European discos to the U.S., making her an international star.
She went on to record “Bad Girls,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Hot Stuff,” “I Feel Love,” “Last Dance,” and a cover version of “MacArthur Park,” that became her first number one record in the U.S. A winner of five Grammy Awards who sold more than 130 million records, Summer was the mother of three daughters and, as she once told CNN, “a gwammy” at least three times over.
A fluent German speaker, Summer was also a talented visual artist, selling more than $1 million in paintings. She became a born again Christian later in her career. But, she told CNN writer KJ Matthews four years ago, she had no objections to being dubbed the Queen of Disco. “It’s great I’m the queen. Look, it’s nice to be the queen of something, darling,” she said.
Her family asked that donations be made to The Salvation Army in lieu of flowers.
Here are some of Donna Summers' most notable musical accomplishments:
-- Best-known hits include "Hot Stuff," "She Works Hard for the Money," "Love To Love You Baby," "I Feel Love," "Last Dance," and "Bad Girls"
-- Sold more than 130 million records worldwide and released 17 studio albums throughout her career
-- Won 5 Grammy Awards between 1979 and 1998 and 6 American Music Awards