May 17, 2012 Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, Dies at 63
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. Donna Summer, one of the most influential singers of the disco era, died on Thursday. She was 63.
The cause was cancer, according to a statement released by Susan Muneo, the singer’s longtime manager, who said she died in Florida. Ms. Summer was a five-time Grammy winner who became a superstar in the 1970s with hits like “Love to Love You Baby” “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.”
Ms. Summer was a talented vocalist trained in the gospel tradition whose consistent success on the pop charts was rivaled at the time only by the Bee Gees. In the 1980s she continued to score hits with songs like “She Works Hard for the Money” and “This Time I Know It’s for Real.”
Her collaborations with the producer Giorgio Moroder in the 1970s broke new ground for dance music and have been influencing the genre ever since. Few vocalists could match the sensuous eroticism she brought to some of her best recordings, which for many fans came to define the disco era.
Born on Dec. 31, 1948, and raised in Boston, Ms. Summer learned to sing in church in a gospel choir and as a teenager performed in a short-lived psychedelic rock group called the Crow. After high school, she moved to New York and soon landed a role in a German production of “Hair.”
It was in Europe, while she was working as a studio vocalist, that she met the Mr. Moroder and Pete Bellotte, another producer. Collaborating with them, she recorded “Love to Love You Baby,” the 17-minute long single released in 1975 that became a major disco hit and by year’s end had crossed over to the pop and R&B charts as well. The song, on which she moaned and sang in a breathy, seductive voice, skyrocketed her career.
A statement released by Ms. Summer’s family said, “While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”