Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, 63 loses battle with cancer
Hot Stuff singer Donna Summer died this morning aged 63 after a battle with cancer, her family has confirmed.
The star, known as the Queen of Disco, passed away in Florida.
The Seventies icon was battling lung cancer, TMZ is reporting, with sources telling the website Donna believed she contracted the illness by inhaling toxic particles after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.
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'.
It went on: 'Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time.' She had been living in Englewood, Florida, with her husband Bruce Sudano.
Sources told TMZ she had attempted to keep the extent of her illness from fans and was recently trying to finish up her latest album.
Summers, real name LaDonna Gaines, is best know for her string of 70s hits, including I Feel Love, Last Dance and Bad Girls.
She was also the first female artist with four No. 1 singles in a 13-month period, according to the Rock Hall of Fame, where she was a nominee this year.
Summer came to prominence just as disco was burgeoning, and came to define the era with a string of No. 1 hits and her beauty queen looks.
Hit maker: Summer is known for her popular 70s tracks including Hot Stuff and Bad Girls
Disco became as much defined by her sultry, sexual vocals - her bedroom moans and sighs - as the relentless, pulsing rhythms of the music itself.
Summers married actor Helmuth Sommer in 1973 before giving birth to the couple's daughter Mimi later that year.
Although the marriage crumbled in 1975, she kept an altered version of her ex's surname to use as her stage name. She married Brooklyn Dreams musician Bruce Sudano in 1980 and the couple went on to have two daughters, Brooklyn, born in 1981 and Amanda the following year.
In 1994, the family moved from Los Angeles to Nashville where Donna took time out from showbusiness to focus on painting but had recently returned to the recording studio.
As well has staggering career highs, Summer also endured personal lows.
She suffered serious depression in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks in New York.
'I was really freaked out by the horrific experiences of that day,' Summer, who was at her Manhattan apartment during the 2001 attacks, once said.
'I couldn't go out, I didn't want to talk to anybody. I had to keep the blinds down and stay in my bedroom.'
Friends eventually intervened and the born-again Christian also found strength in her faith.
'I went to church, and light came back into my soul,' she said in 2008. 'That heaviness was gone.'
Love to Love You Baby, with its erotic moans, was her first hit and one of the most scandalous songs of the polyester-and-platform-heel era.
Unlike some other stars of disco who faded as the music became less popular, Summer was able to grow beyond it and later segued to a pop-rock sound.
Soon after, Summer became a born-again Christian and faced controversy when she was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the AIDS epidemic. Summer denied making the comments, but was the target of a boycott.
Still, even as disco went out of fashion she remained a fixture in dance clubs, endlessly sampled and remixed into contemporary dance hits.
Family: Summer with her husband Bruce Sudano and their daughter Brooklyn in 2003. The couple also had another daughter together, Amanda. She had a daughter, Mimi, from a previous marriage.
Summer, real name LaDonna Adrian Gaines, was born in 1948 in Boston. She was raised on gospel music and became the soloist in her church choir by age 10.
Love to Love You Baby was her U.S. chart debut and the first of 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 - second only to Madonna.
During the disco era she burned up the charts: She was the only artist to have three consecutive double-LPs hit No. 1, Live and More, `Bad Girls and On the Radio.
She was never comfortable with the "Disco Queen" label. Musically, she began to change in 1979 with Hot Stuff, which had a tough, rock `n' roll beat.
Her diverse sound helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.
Dionne Warwick said in a statement that she was sad to lose a great performer and 'dear friend'.
'My heart goes out to her husband and her children,' Warwick said. 'Prayers will be said to keep them strong.'
Summer released her last album, Crayons, in 2008. It was her first full studio album in 17 years. She also performed on American Idol that year with its top female contestants.