Donna Summer, right, the ultimate Queen of Disco, pictured, whose voice provided the soundtrack for a generation, has died. She was 63.
A statement issued on behalf of her family hailed the four-time Grammy award winning singer/songwriter, best known for her iconic dancefloor hits including I Feel Love, as “a woman of many gifts”. It is believed she had been battling cancer.
The full statement read: “Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith. While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”
Summer, who was born Donna Gaines in Boston, US, learned to sing in church before fronting a series of bands and appearing in musicals. She gained her stage name after she married Austrian actor Helmut Sommer, although she later remarried.
Working as a session singer brought her into contact with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and together they established her as one of the biggest acts of the 1970s.
The extended 16-minute version of Love To Love You Baby was a huge hit in the clubs but was banned from several radio stations because of her suggestive vocal style.
It made her a star but she found even greater success in 1977 with I Feel Love, which again featured the pioneering electronic disco beats of Moroder.
The song proved to be hugely influential and probably her best known performance, and along with German synth band Kraftwerk, inspired a generation of electronic musicians. She repeated the international success it achieved with her 1979 duet with Barbra Streisand, No More Tears (Enough is Enough).
The singer teamed up with Stock Aitken Waterman in the late 1980s when her reputation had taken a battering and she had alienated many fans with alleged anti-gay remarks.
Radio 2 presenter and DJ Dave Pearce said: “For me and thousands of DJs and millions of clubbers around the world, Summer’s most important contribution was the 1977 hit I Feel Love.
“Until that point most of disco had been backed by live musicians, bands and disco orchestras.But the synth-laden production together with Summer’s unique trance-like vocal created a masterpiece.”