Joni Sledge, a founding member of the sibling R&B/disco group Sister Sledge, was discovered dead in her Phoenix, Arizona, home Friday, March 10.
The cause of death for the 60-year-old singer is unknown and the group’s publicist, Biff Warren, told CNN that because Sledge had not been ill, her death comes as a shock to family and friends.
“Yesterday, numbness fell upon our family,” the group said on Facebook Saturday. “We are saddened to inform you that our dear sister, mother, aunt, niece and cousin, Joni, passed away yesterday. Please pray for us as we weep for this loss.”
Yesterday, numbness fell upon our family. We are saddened to inform you that our dear sister,…
The second-oldest sibling, Joni Sledge established the Sister Sledge in 1971 with sisters Debbie, Kim and Kathy, who would leave the group in 1989 but occasionally perform with them in the ’90s.
After struggling to achieve wide success, the group’s biggest hit came with “We Are Family,” which landed at No. 1 on the R&B and disco charts and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Recording it was like a one-take party,” Joni Sledge told The Guardian in 2016. “We were just dancing and playing around and hanging out in the studio when we did it.”
Their other hits include “He’s The Greatest Dancer,” the Motown cover “My Guy” and “Frankie.” Although their success waned, the band continued to perform, last performing together at an October concert. They had been scheduled to take the stage in Louisiana March 18 with the Village People and Rose Royce.
Joni Sledge is survived by her son, Thaddeus, and three sister-bandmates. Funeral arrangements have not been confirmed yet, according to Philly.com.
Consoling comments poured in for the decades-old band on their Facebook page.
Celebrities like La Toya Jackson, Sister Sledge producer-songwriter Nile Rodgers and Questlove also shared their condolences.
— La Toya Jackson (@latoyajackson) March 12, 2017
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) March 12, 2017
More than just the pride of #Philadelphia or my 1st music crushes: #SisterSledge meant the world to me. I loved them all equally but man…. Joni. I can't believe she's gone. My one wish was to see them reunited one more time (desperately tried a few times back when we were your musical options for Philly 4th Of July) but…*sigh* my heart goes out to Kathy, Kim & Debbie (their spouses and children too) praying the silver lining in this tragedy is that you guys come together just one more time.