Queen of Disco Donna Summer dies
R&B and disco singer Donna Summer passed away on Thursday at the age of 63 following cancer-related complications.
Summer, known for hits such as ‘Hot Stuff’ and ‘Love to Love You, Baby’, received the name of the Queen of Disco during the height of the genre’s popularity in the 1970’s.
Summer was born LaDonna Andrea Grimes on December 21, 1948 as one of six siblings in a working class household in Boston.
Her time as a singer began in the church choir where she was an avid fan of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.
The professional career in singing was launched with a role in the musical Hair when Summer was 18 which was the production of a touring company that took her through Europe.
It was during a recording session when she met with producers Pete Bellotte and Giorgio Moroder who fell in love with her voice and convinced her to work with them in the production of several now classic hits.
Summer’s breakout solo hit ‘Love to Love You, Baby’ topped the US music charts in 1976 and lead the songstress into a successful career beyond the disco era and into the pop-rock genre.
The Queen of Disco continued to tour right up until she was diagnosed with breast cancer and despite the diagnoses she continued to record music while remaining private about her health.
Praise for Summer’s life and work has already started to come out including from singer Elton John who released a statement following her death.
“Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace, especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted,” John said in the statement.
“She is a great friend to me and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will miss her greatly.”
Summer became a well-known supporter of HIV organisations after claims emerged that during a 1983 tour she lectured the crowd on how she had “seen the evil homosexuality come out of you people”.
“AIDS is your sin. Now don't get me wrong; God loves you. But not the way you are now,” New York magazine quoted her at the time.
Summer, who was brought up in a conservative Christian household, denied ever making the statements and would later sue New York magazine.
In an open letter to AIDS campaign group ACT UP in 1989 Summer said the incident never happened.
“A couple of the people I write with are gay, and they have been ever since I met them. What people want to do with their bodies is their personal preference.”
Summer died in her Englewood, Florida home she shared with husband Bruce Sudano.