Donna Summer, 70s ‘Queen of Disco’ has died at 63
Donna Summer, the “Queen of Disco” of the 1970s, died on Thursday at the age of 63 in Florida. According to a statement from her longtime manager, Susan Muneo, Summer’s cause of death was cancer. Her family released a statement saying Summer died on Thursday morning and that they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.” Summer was known for big hits such as “Hot Stuff,” “Last Dance,” “Love to Love You Baby,” and “Bad Girls,” which became the soundtrack for a dazzling age of sex, drugs, dance, and glittery clothes.
Summer received five Grammy awards from the Recording Academy, who said she “had a dynamic voice and unique musical style that helped define the dance music genre in the ’70s.” President of the Recording Academy Neil Portnow said, “She also was an artist who crossed many musical genres, as evidenced by her Grammy wins in the R&B, rock, inspirational and dance categories. Her talent was a true gift to the music industry, and our thoughts and sympathies are with her family, friends and fans throughout the world during this difficult time.” In a 2008 interview with CNN, Summer said, “I don’t like to be categorized because I think that I am an instrument, and if you play me, I’ll make whatever particular sound is supposed to come out for that color. And so, in the overall spectrum of things, I’m just trying to be true to my — what I feel my mission is.”
Hollywood publicist Michael Levine, said he was hired in 2002 to help Summer “rebrand and reinvent her image.” Levine said, “She was a victim of her own success. The disco diva imprint was so great that she wanted to break beyond that.” Chaka Khan, who was Summer’s friend for 30 years, released a statement saying, “She is one of the few black women I could speak German with and she is one of the few friends I had in this business.” Summer moved to Germany in the 1970s to perform in several musicals. “I was shocked to hear about Donna,” singer Barbra Streisand said in a statement. “She was so vital the last time I saw her a few months ago. I loved doing the duet with her. She had an amazing voice and was so talented.” Elton John also expressed his thoughts on Summer’s death. “I’m so sad. This woman was the queen of disco and so much more. Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace, especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted. She is a great friend to me and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will miss her greatly.” Summer’s is survived by her husband and three daughters.