Queen of Disco Donna Summer Dies

by David Weiner 9:30 AM PDT, May 17, 2012
Photo: Getty Images

Donna Summer, known as the '70s Queen of Disco, passed away Thursday morning after a 10-month battle with lung cancer. She was 63.

Summer's family, who apparently were the only ones who knew of her illness, have released a statement saying that the singer has died and that they "are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continue legacy."

The five-time Grammy winner was best known for the disco hits Last Dance, Hot Stuff, Bad Girls, MacArthur Park, On the Radio, She Works Hard for the Money and more.

Despite her peak success, charting three consecutive double albums at No. 1 on the Billboard charts as well as four No. 1 singles within 13 months, Summer struggled to stay on top in the onset of the mid-to-late '80s and afterwards, despite several attempts at a comeback.

Summer married singer Bruce Sudano in the summer of 1980 and the pair had two daughters together, Brooklyn and Amanda.

In a 2008 interview with ET to promote her new disc Crayons, Summer got candid about private problems early in her career, struggling with "severe depression" and admitting to a suicide attempt in the late '70s: "It sort of snuck up on me," she said. "I had my daughter, and during that period my marriage broke up, and I was alone. I was staying up at night, and I would go out and work, and I was up with her and maybe getting two or three hours of sleep a day -- it was scary. I just couldn't deal with another minute of it. I was on my way out the window and got caught in the curtain. The maid opened the door at exactly that time. Thank God that lady came because I would be gone today."

Living in New York during the 9/11 tragedy in 2001 did not help ease her on-and-off depression, however: "I was a mile or two up the street from where it happened. I was there for months, and it was horrific, and I went through a terrible depression." Still, Summer says she did not turn to drugs or medication, saying, "I didn't want to become dependant on something else and then have another problem, so I was just going through it [the natural way]."

In support of Crayons, Summer also performed on American Idol with its top female contestants.