The legendary disco singer Donna Summer has passed away, at the age of 63. After a lengthy battle with lung cancer, Summer passed away in Florida. She had reportedly been trying to keep the extent of her illness hidden from public view, and a few weeks ago, TMZ had spoken to somebody who was with the singer and said that she "didn't seem too bad" and was trying to focus on finishing an album that she had been working on.
Donna Summer was born in Donna Gaines, in Boston Massachusetts; she was one of seven children. Inspired by Motown groups such as The Supremes, she formed several musical groups, one of which featured her sister and cousin. Having left Boston in search of fame, Summer eventually landed the role of Sheila in the musical Hair, before working as a session singer and releasing singles under her birth name. The five-time Grammy award winner shot to fame in the 1970s, at the height of the popularity of disco music.
A pivotal moment for Donna came when she was working as a backing singer for Three Dog Night and met the producers GIORGIO MORODER and Pete Bellotte. In 1975, they began working on 'Love to Love You, Baby.' Pandering to the rising popularity of the disco sound, they produced a 17-minute version for discotheques contributing to the increased demand for "12 singles. The hits continued to roll in throughout the mid-to-late seventies, with 'Last Dance' and 'Bad Girls' to name just two. Her appeal refused to abate and she ushered in a new decade with 'On the Radio' and 'I Feel Love.' The strength of her appeal was enough to convince the likes of David Bowie and Duran Duran to venture into making disco music.
Summer struggled with success, though and often described those early years of fame as a time of great stress for her. She is known to have suffered with anxiety attacks and eventually struggled with addiction, after she self-medicated to try and combat the anxiety. In 1979, she suffered a nervous breakdown. In order to recover, she re-entered the church - where she had first learned to sing - and proclaimed herself a born again Christian. She announced that she would never again perform 'Love to Love You Baby,' the song that had brought her international recognition and also the song that many DJs refused to play, as it was too provocative.
Summer would come to sing the song again, a quarter of a century down the line and her influence had endured for that time. Beyonce Knowles had sampled the song on 'Naughty Girl,' Dionne Warwick has also covered parts of the song in her live act. Madonna used 'I Feel Love' as part of the intro to her live show on the Confessions tour in 2006 and the song has been sampled by a huge number of modern artists, including Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, Robbie Williams and David Guetta.
On Twitter, tributes to the late singer have been snowballing since the news broke. Exene Cervenka, of the rock band X said "donna summer's "mac arthur park" one of the greatest vocals EVER. and it's really her singing, not a computer!!!!!" The songwriter Patrick Wolf, also added "once upon a time" the album by Donna Summer, a moroder summer masterpiece. They changed music forever, a legend never dies." One of Donna's contemporaries, Nile Rodgers of the band Chic, also tweeted to say "For the last half hour or so I've been lying in my bed crying and stunned. Donna Summer RIP." It only takes a brief glance to appreciate the enormous influence that her music has had over several generations. Her family released a statement, to say that they are "at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy."