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RIP Donna Summer: Disco Queen Dies at 63

Donna Summer, the disco queen whose salacious songs sometimes clashed with her traditional values, has died of cancer at age 63, TMZ is reporting.

Boston native Summer, born LaDonna Andre Gaines, sang in her church choir as a teenager before winning five Grammys and becoming one of the top-selling female artists of the late '70s. Her hits included "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," "She Works Hard for the Money" and "I Feel Love."

Because of her association with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, Summer's music defined the early days of disco, combining her gospel training with the producers' European sensibility to make music appropriate for both the bedroom and the dance floor.

"Love to Love You Baby" became controversial because some people believed Summer's erotic moans were a little too close to people in the throes of intercourse. One mix of the song topped out at 17 minutes. The song still reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976.

She also reached the top with her disco cover of Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park," "Hot Stuff" and "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," and topped Billboard's Dance Music/Club Play Chart as late as 2008 with a trio of songs, "Fame (the Game)," "I'm a Fire" and "Stamp Your Feet."

Summer won Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("Last Dance, 1978), Best Female Rock Vocal Performance ("Hot Stuff," 1979) and Best Dance Recording ("Carry On," 1997). She also won two gospel Grammys in 1983 and 1984, and was very vocal about her Christian beliefs later in life, including in her 2003 memoir Ordinary Girl (with Marc Eliot).

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray