Reports say the Grammy winner, who had been battling cancer, was in her Florida home at the time of her death.
TMZ is reporting that Summer died of lung cancer, which she believed she contracted by inhaling toxic particles after the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on December 31, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts.
She began singing in the church at a very young age, and while in her teens she formed several musical groups, including one with her sister and a cousin.
The singer dropped out of high school and joined the psychedelic rock group the Crow as their lead singer; however, the group was short-lived and Summer moved to New York City.
In 1968, she auditioned for the role of Sheila in the Broadway musical Hair but the part was given to Melba Moore. However, when the musical moved to Europe Donna was offered the role. She took the role and while in Germany she decided to make it her home for several years.
Summer married Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer in 1972 and in 1973 she gave birth to their first child Mimi Sommer.
Shortly thereafter, Donna divorced Sommer but kept his last name, anglicizing it to “Summer.”
Summer continued to work in Europe while living with her new boyfriend Peter Muhldorfer.
In the early 1970s she began singing background for the Three Dog Night and that’s where she met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. She signed a deal with the European label Groovy Records and released her first album with them “Lady of the Night.”
In 1975 Donna approached Moroder with a song she wand Bellotte was working on. The song was “Love to Love you, Baby.”
The song was very successful in Europe, reaching the Top 5 in the UK.
“Love to love you, Baby,” was then sent to Casablanca Records in hopes of getting it released in the U.S.
A 17-minute version of the song was released in the U.S. and it reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
And the rest is HISTORY!