Joni Sledge of Sister Sledge Dies Age 60
Joni Sledge of Sister Sledge has died at the age of 60. The singer was found unresponsive in her home by a friend in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday, the band’s publicist Biff Warren told the Hollywood Reporter.
A cause of death has not been determined, and Warren said Sledge had not suffered with illness. She and her sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy formed Sister Sledge in 1971, and were famous for their iconic disco anthem “We Are Family.” “Yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We welcome your prayers as we weep the loss of our sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin,” the family said in a statement on Saturday. Despite recording one of the most famous disco songs of all time, Sister Sledge struggled for years before success came. “The four of us had been in the music business for eight years and we were frustrated. We were saying: ‘Well, maybe we should go to college and just become lawyers or something other than music, because it really is tough,'” Sledge told U.K. newspaper The Guardian in an interview last year. After meeting with Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic, the duo wrote and produced the Sister Sledge album We Are Family, and the band had their first major hit with “The Greatest Dancer” in May 1979. The track was later sampled by Will Smith on his 1997 hit “Getting Jiggy Wit It.” Their biggest hit was their family anthem, which became the soundtrack for female empowerment. We Are Family sold more than one million copies, and was nominated for a Grammy. Sledge is survived by a son, Thaddeus, her sisters and other relatives, according to the Hollywood Reporter.