Video: Was 'Queen of Disco' Donna Summer a victim of the 9/11 attacks on New York?
DONNA Summer, the 1970s pop singer known as the Queen of Disco, has died of lung cancer, an illness she believes she contracted from inhaling toxic particles released after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York.
The 63-year-old singer, who had hits including Hot Stuff, Love to Love You, Baby and I Feel Love, died in Florida on Thursday morning.
She had largely kept her battle with lung cancer out of the public eye. But the website TMZ reported that the singer had told friends she believed her illness was the result of inhaling toxic dust from the collapsed Twin Towers.
On Thursday night tributes were paid to the singer, considered by many to be the voice of the 1970s.
A statement released on behalf of her family — husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, her daughter, Mimi from a previous marriage and four grandchildren — read: "Early this morning, surrounded by family, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith.
"While we grieve her passing, we 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.”
She had spoken at length about September 11.
In a 2008 interview with The Daily Telegraph, she said she had a premonition about the attacks a month beforehand. Afterwards she said she suffered from severe depression and could not leave her Manhattan flat.
“I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I had to keep the blinds down and stay in my bedroom,” she said.
Music industry heavyweights spoke of their respect for Summer.
Sir Elton John said: “I’m so sad. This woman was the queen of disco and so much more.
"That she has never been inducted into the Rock 'n’ Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace, especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted. Her records sound as good today as they ever did.”
Quincy Jones, who produced albums for Summer, wrote on Twitter: “Rest in peace dear Donna Summer. Your voice was the heartbeat and soundtrack of a decade.”
Gloria Estefan wrote: “Few singers have impacted music and the world like Donna Summer! It’s the end of an era.”
Kylie Minogue said that Summer was “one of my earliest musical inspirations”, while the musician Moby said: “Words can’t express the impact and influence she had on music.”
Aretha Franklin said: “So shocking to hear about the passing of Donna Summer. In the 70s, she reigned over the disco era and kept the disco jumping. Who will forget “Last Dance.” A fine performer and a very nice person.”
Barbra Streisand added: “I was shocked to hear about Donna. She was so vital the last time I saw her a few months ago. I loved doing the duet with her. She had an amazing voice and was so talented. It’s so sad.”
Neil Portnow, the Recording Academy President said: “Donna Summer had a dynamic voice and unique musical style that helped define the dance music genre in the ‘70s. She also was an artist who crossed many musical genres...”
The record producer Pete Waterman, who worked with Summer in the 1980s, said: “Whenever you were with her she made you feel so special. She had all the talent but she gave you all the credit. She was not a diva in any shape or form.
“But what a voice she had. She used to warm up in the ladies lavatory and everyone in our building would stop and it would come to a standstill to hear her warm up.”
Summer’s career began in the early 1970s and she was still recording until recently. She was reportedly working on a new record when she died.
A Christian who was “born again” in 1979, Summer was credited with defining the disco era, laying the foundations for modern dance music.
She was said to have pioneered the fusion of European electronic music with American disco and to have influenced acts including David Bowie and Duran Duran.
She won five Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, and had three multi-platinum albums.
In America the title track from her 2008 album, I’m a Fire, took Summer to number one in the dance charts, making her the first artist to reach the slot in the Seventies, Eighties, Nineties and the first decade of the new millennium.
At least 55 rescuers have died as a result of cancer since 9/11. Although many had been diagnosed with the disease prior to the tragedy. At least 75 have been diagnosed with cancer since the attacks.
More than 18,000 people claim to have fallen ill due to inhaling dust particles from the collapse of the towers, with the primary issue being repspitory problems. And the number is constantly increasing.
The majority of those affected are rescue workers who spent extended periods at Ground Zero. Several people who died of illness following 9/11, including eight police officers, have their names on the World Trade Center memorial.
Many families have sued the city for illnesses brought on by the tragedy with cases still making their way through the courts.
According to air polluton experts the dust contained asbestos as well as traces of Lead, mercury and dioxin. More than 2,500 contaminants were found in the dust including known carcinogens.