Donna Summer, disco queen, dies at age 63 after cancer battle
Grammy-winning singer Donna Summer, often dubbed the "Queen of Disco," died on Thursday, May 17, at age 63 after battling lung cancer, OnTheRedCarpet.com has learned.
She rose to fame in the 1970s and was known for hits such as "Hot Stuff," "Love to Love You Baby," "Last Dance" and "She Works Hard for the Money."
"Early this morning, surronded by family, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith," her family said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. "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," they added. "In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Donna's honor to the Salvation Army."
Summer passed away in Florida. She is survived by husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda and her first child, daughter Mimi, who is from a previous marriage.
A spokesperson for the family said in a statement that Summer battled lung cancer before her death and was a non-smoker.
Summer was born in the Boston area as LaDonna Adrian Gaines on Dec. 31, 1948. She made her singing debut as a child, performing at her church. She later appeared in musicals in high school and joined a psychedelic rock group called the Crow. She later performed in a German production of "Hair" in Munich 1967, when she was 18. She released her first single, a cover of the Jaynett's song "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," in 1971.
She scored her first big hit four years later - "Love to Love You Baby" shot to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Summer would go on to win five Grammy Awards. Her 17th and final studio album, "Crayons," was released in 2008 and peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. It was her first major record in about 17 years.
Summer also dabbled in acting. She starred in the 1978 film "Thank God It's Friday" and guest starred as Steve Urkel's Aunt Oona on the 1990s sitcom "Family Matters."
"'She was one of the best guest stars we ever had on 'Family Matters.' She will be missed,' Jaleel White, who played Urkel, said in a statement to OnTheRedCarpet.com.
She also made appearances on reality shows such as "America's Got Talent" and "American Idol."
Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of the latter show, said on his Twitter page that Summer was one of his favorite singers, adding: "She defined dance music in the 70's and had a wonderful voice and personality."
Barbra Streisand, who sang the 1979 song "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" with Summer, said in a statement she was "shocked" to hear about her death, adding: "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. .. It's so sad."