Joni Sledge, a member of Sister Sledge, has died, aged 60.
A representative for the band confirmed the news. She passed away at her home in Phoenix, Arizona on Friday (March 10). A friend found her body, according to publicist Biff Warren. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
“On yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We welcome your prayers as we weep the loss of our sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin,” Sledge’s family said in a statement, as the Guardian reports.
Sledge formed Sister Sledge in her hometown of Philadelphia in 1971 with her sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy. After eight years of struggling to gain success, the group met Chic’s Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, who went on to write and produce the band’s album ‘We Are Family’. The title track would go on to be their biggest hit, selling more than one million copies.
They scored their only British Number One single with ‘Frankie’, released in 1985. Their last single was a re-release of ‘We Are Family’ in 2004, while they last released a studio album in 2003 with ‘Style’.
Kathy left the group to embark on a solo career, but Sister Sledge continued to perform and record. They played for Pope Francis in 2015 and last performed together in October 2016.
Rodgers has paid tribute to Joni Sledge on Twitter, writing: “#RIPJoniSledge #WeAreFamily My heartfelt condolences to your family because they are my family too. We did something pretty amazing together.”
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) March 12, 2017