The disco lights dim: Donna Summer dead at 63

May 17, 2012 at 12:25 p.m. ET

Death claims yet another icon this year: "Hot Stuff" singer Donna Summer dies from cancer at 63.

Donna Summer dead at 63

We've already lost a bunch of icons this year, including Whitney Houston and Dick Clark. Now? The queen of disco, Donna Summer, passed away after a battle with cancer, according to TMZ. She was 63.

"We're told Summer was in Florida at the time of her death," TMZ reported of the singer, known for songs like "Last Dance," "She Works Hard for the Money" and "Hot Stuff."

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Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on Dec. 31, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts to devout Christian parents. Summer — along with her six siblings — were raised singing in the church. As a teen, Summer rebelled against her upbringings and joined the psychedelic band Crow as lead singer. The band moved to New York City and broke up soon after, leading Summer to audition for a Broadway adaptation of Hair. She lost the role, but later moved to Germany and earned the lead in the European version.

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Summer lived in Germany for several years, married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer and had a daughter, Mimi Sommer. She later divorced Sommer but kept his last name, changing it to Summer. She later moved on to singing backup for Three Dog Night and gained the attention of producers who signed her to Groovy Records. Her biggest record, Bad Girls, was released in 1974, spurning hits like "Hot Stuff" and "Dim The Lights."

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Her career continued its meteoric rise into the early 1980s when she married Brooklyn Dreams singer Bruce Sudano. However, her career suffered when she, as a born-again Christian, allegedly made comments about homosexuals and the newly found disease AIDS. Summer always denied the rumors.

''I think it was [based on] an assumption on somebody else's part, not on mine," Summer told MetroWeekly in 2010. ''If you go, 'Oh, that person is that way,' then they believe [it]. It's not necessarily something that came out of my mouth. It's something that someone assumed."

''I have tried over the years to bridge any misunderstanding,'' she added. ''And I think the more you talk about it, the more it creates questions.''

Summer was reportedly working on a new album when she passed away. She leaves behind her husband and two daughters.

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