Donna Summers with President and Mrs. Gerald Ford in 1979.
Donna Summer, the multimillion-selling singer and songwriter whose hits captured both the giddy hedonism of the 1970s disco era and the feisty female solidarity of the early 1980s, died last Thursday at her home in Naples, Fla. She was 63.
The cause was cancer, her publicist, Brian Edwards, said.
With her doe eyes, cascade of hair and sinuous dance moves, Ms. Summer became the queen of disco — the music’s glamorous public face — as well as an idol with a substantial gay following. Her voice, airy and ethereal or brightly assertive, sailed over dance floors and leapt from radios from the mid-’70s well into the ’80s.
She riffled through styles as diverse as funk, electronica, rock and torch song as she piled up 14 Top 10 singles in the United States, among them “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls,” “Hot Stuff,” “Last Dance” and “She Works Hard for the Money.” In the late ’70s she had three double albums in a row that reached No. 1, and each sold more than a million copies.
Her combination of a church-rooted voice and up-to-the-minute dance beats was a template for 1970s disco, and, with her producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, she pioneered electronic dance music with the synthesizer pulse of “I Feel Love” in 1977, a sound that pervades 21st-century pop. Her own recordings have been sampled by, among others, Beyoncé, the Pet Shop Boys, Justice and Nas.
Ms. Summer won Grammy Awards for dance music, R&B, rock and gospel. Her recorded catalog spans the orgasmic moans of her first hit, “Love to Love You Baby,” the streetwalker chronicle of “Bad Girls,” the feminist moxie of “She Works Hard for the Money” and the religious devotion of “Forgive Me,” a gospel song that earned her another Grammy.
Through it all, Ms. Summer’s voice held on to an optimistic spirit and a determination to flourish. She garnered loyal fans. In 2009 she performed in Oslo at the concert honoring the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to President Obama.
From the NYT, HERE.
Robin Gibb, one of the three singing brothers of the Bee Gees, the long-running Anglo-Australian pop group whose chirping falsettos and hook-laden disco hits like “Jive Talkin’ ” and “You Should Be Dancing” shot them to worldwide fame in the 1970s, died on Sunday in London. He was 62 and lived in Thame, Oxfordshire, England.
The cause was complications of cancer and intestinal surgery, his family said in a statement.
Mr. Gibb had been hospitalized for intestinal problems several times in the last two years. Cancer had spread from his colon to his liver, and in the weeks before his death he had pneumonia and for a while was in a coma.
Mr. Gibb was the second Bee Gee and third Gibb brother to die. His fraternal twin and fellow Bee Gee, Maurice Gibb, died of complications of a twisted intestine in 2003 at 53. The youngest brother, Andy, who had a successful solo career, was 30 when he died of heart failure, in 1988.
With brilliant smiles, polished funk and adenoidal close harmonies, the Bee Gees — Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb — were disco’s ambassadors to Middle America in the 1970s, embodying the peacocked look of the time in their open-chested leisure suits and gold medallions.
They sold well over 100 million albums and had six consecutive No. 1 singles from 1977 to 1979. They were also inextricably tied to the disco era’s defining movie, “Saturday Night Fever,” a showcase for their music that included the hit “Stayin’ Alive,” its propulsive beat in step with the strut of the film’s star, John Travolta.
But the group, whose first record came out in 1963, had a history that preceded its disco hits, starting with upbeat ditties inspired by the Everly Brothers and the Beatles, then with lachrymose ballads like “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”
Barry, the oldest brother, was the dominant Bee Gee for most of the group’s existence. But the lead singer for many of the early hits was Robin, whose breaking voice, gaunt frame and gloomy eyes were well suited to convey adolescent fragility. “I Started a Joke” (with the second line, “Which started the whole world crying”), “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” “Massachusetts” and other heavy-hearted songs brought the Bee Gees to the top of the charts as one of the British Invasion’s most musically conservative groups.
“While other guys, like Ray Davies of the Kinks, were writing about social problems, we were writing about emotions,” Robin Gibb told a British newspaper last year. “They were something boys didn’t write about then because it was seen as a bit soft. But people love songs that melt your heart.”