Donna Summer, Queen of Disco, dies at 63

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by Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press

Video report by Nischelle Turner, CNN

Posted on May 17, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 9:33 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Disco queen Donna Summer, whose pulsing anthems such as "Last Dance," "Love to Love You Baby" and "Bad Girls" became the soundtrack for a glittery age of sex, drugs, dance and flashy clothes, has died. She was 63.

Her family released a statement, saying Summer died Thursday morning and that they "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," the statement read.

Summer had been living in Englewood, Fla., with her husband Bruce Sudano.

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.

But unlike some other stars of disco who faded as the music became less popular, she was able to grow beyond it and later segued to a pop-rock sound. She had one of her biggest hits in the 1980s with "She Works Hard For The Money," which became another anthem, this time for women's rights.

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.

Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, Summer was raised in Boston on gospel music.

"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 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.

Her genre-defying sound helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.

She released a number of albums that have reach gold or platinum status, including the multiplatinum "Bad Girls" and "On the Radio, Volume I & II."

She had a number of top 10 Billboard hits, including "Hot Stuff," "She Works Hard for the Money" and "MacArthur Park."

She 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.

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